News in support of successful living: business & economy, health & wellness, education, youth, the arts, politics, sustainability & social trends. Featuring news of the west side of Vancouver Island. 

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More hip and knee replacement programs in BC.

Wednesday, March 21 ~ BC. The BC government is launching a new, four-part surgical strategy aimed at reducing wait times for the health care British Columbians need, it was announced today in Vancouver.

One of the first components of the strategy is aimed primarily at the seniors population with five hip and knee replacement programs implemented throughout the province, announced today.

“For far too long, far too many British Columbians were left on waitlists instead of getting fast access to the surgery they needed to enjoy full, active, lives,” said Premier John Horgan today. “We’re getting people back on their feet faster by dramatically increasing access to hip and knee surgeries.”

These programs will address the long waits faced by people. In 2016-17, 30% of people waiting for hip surgery and 38% of people waiting for knee surgery waited more than 26 weeks.

“We are embedding the innovations of the former Richmond Hip and Knee Reconstruction project into our program because it is a public health-care system solution that is proven to work for patients,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Our strategy will not only mean people spend less time waiting for hip and knee replacements, but that we keep up to demand for all surgeries by investing in more surgeries and implementing operating room efficiencies.”

The strategy is supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19 and increasing of $100 million in 2019-20.

The hip and knee replacement programs are designed to support increased surgical volumes, reduce wait times, and improve continuity of care for patients by coordinating all the services a patient requires to prepare for, undergo, and recover from surgery. They build on the Richmond project by adding new components like dedicated operating room time, pre- and post-surgical support, centralized intake, standardized assessment, first available surgeon and ongoing evaluation.

“We are thrilled to be part of this important work and announce the new hip and knee replacement centre at Vancouver General Hospital,” said Dr. Bassam Masri, Vancouver Coastal Health’s surgeon-in-chief for Vancouver Acute and the head of the orthopedics department. “Streamlining the intake and assessment process for hip and knee replacement surgery reduces wait times for patients, providing them with comprehensive, wrap-around care before and after surgery so they can get back to living their lives in the best way possible. With people spending less time in hospital, we are able to perform more surgeries.”

In 2016-17, approximately 14,390 hip and knee surgeries were performed, and by 2018-19, more than 19,250 will be done annually. The additional surgeries will mean a 34% increase in hip and knee surgeries. This will significantly reduce the number of patients waiting.

In total under the surgical strategy, 9,400 more surgeries (4,000 additional hip and knee, 900 dental and 4,500 other surgeries) will be done throughout BC by the end of March 2019, compared to the previous year.

The surgical strategy has four areas of focus:
* Providing more surgeries in areas with long wait times, starting with hip and knee surgeries and incrementally tackling other surgeries with long waits;
* Investing to keep up with growing demand for all other surgeries;
* Making surgical programs and operating rooms in the province more efficient through better planning and scheduling and, establishing centralized booking and a single point of contact for patients; and
* Making sure the right number of health professionals are in place to deliver the services needed to meet demand both now and into the future, including surgeons and anesthetists, as well as nursing and rehabilitation health professionals.


Emergency Management BC will conduct a test of Alert Ready on March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm PDT.

Tuesday, March 20 ~ BC.  There will be a test of the BC Emergency Alerting System at 1:55 pm PDT on March 21, 2018.

The test is being conducted by Emergency Management BC.

This is part of a Canada-wide Alert-Ready system that allows government officials to issue public safety alerts through major television and radio broadcasters. This system will only be used during large-scale disasters or emergencies where loss of life is imminent and possible.

Please note that text messages will NOT be tested at this time. Testing of wireless alerts will begin in May 2018.

You can currently expect to receive emergency alerts via Canadian radio and TV, cable and satellite operators.

Alert Ready is a Canada-wide program that allows government officials in each province and territory to issue emergency alerts.


Tuesday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan welcomed Canada’s Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, on her first official visit to British Columbia today, as part of a ceremonial welcome at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria.

“It is an honour to welcome the Governor General to British Columbia,” said Premier Horgan. “Her extraordinary list of accomplishments makes her an inspiration to all Canadians.”

Upon arrival, Her Excellency was presented with flowers by Elayna Loehr, 7, on behalf of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon.

The Governor General was welcomed with a performance by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers of the Songhees First Nation.

Her Excellency received a 21-gun salute fired by the 5th (British Columbia) Field Artillery Regiment of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. The Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific played the Vice Regal Salute in tribute to her visit.

The Governor General inspected the 100-member Guard of Honour from Maritime Forces Pacific and Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, and met with veterans in the Upper Rotunda Memorial Hall in the legislative precinct.

Accompanied by the Premier, Her Excellency signed the Distinguished Visitor’s book in front of the Coat of Arms.
The Governor General will participate in several events during her visit to Victoria and Vancouver from March 20 to 22.


Tuesday, March 20 ~ VICTORIA. The Honourable Judith Guichon has offered her congratulations to Janet Austin, OBC, on the announcement of Austin’s appointment to be the 30th lieutenant-governor of British Columbia.

“I am so pleased to welcome Janet Austin as the next lieutenant-governor of British Columbia. As someone who has dedicated her career to championing women’s equality and social change, she is a wonderful choice to represent Her Majesty The Queen in this great province,” said Guichon. “Ms. Austin will continue to inspire and connect British Columbians in this role.”

Guichon will remain lieutenant-governor until the installation of Austin in the coming weeks.

Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce (left) received a $7,500 donation from Esquimalt Anglers Association president Bob Culm on March 14, 2018 [photo by Judith Cullington]

Sunday, March 18 ~ WEST SHORE.  Construction of the new Millstream Fishway to help with salmon preservation is slated to start in July.

The fundraising goal of the Peninsula Streams Society is $205,000 to match the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans RFCPP funds for 2018-19. They are currently one-third of the way there. Some funding is confirmed, some has been requested, and some still needs to be found. Total project cost is about $450,000. Some of that has already been raised and spent in 2017-18 on design work.

“Bottom line, we are within sight of the goal to begin construction in the coming 2018-2019 fiscal year,” says Peninsula Streams Society president Ian Bruce.  On March 14 a cheque for $7,500 was presented to Peninsula Streams by the Esquimalt Anglers Association whose volunteers also donate “a lot of hours” at Goldstream Hatchery.

“People understand that salmon enhancement is truly a regional issue. The Millstream Creek is not in Esquimalt but they recognize that projects of this kind support salmon fishery throughout the south Island.

“Stepping up”, explains Ian Bruce, is a deliberate pun. The Peninsula Streams Society is working with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Society and others to build the fishway (a series of concrete steps) that will enable coho salmon and cutthroat trout to get further up the Millstream Creek.

Currently, fish passage is blocked at Atkins Road by a large perched culvert that is too high up for the fish to jump into. The fishway will allow the fish to continue upstream, gaining access to an additional 8 km of habitat. 

In total, Peninsula Streams Society is seeking 15 ‘step sponsors’—one per step—who will each contribute $7,500 towards the project costs, as well as smaller donations from groups and individuals. Esquimalt Anglers are the fifth group to contribute. Other step donors include Trotac Marine Ltd and Ralmax.  Municipalities including the City of Langford, as well as Ecoasis at Bear Mountain, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation have also contributed to the project.


Langford Mayor Stew Young — with rugby legend Al Charron — receives Rugby Canada award for contribution to the organization. [March 8, 2018]

Saturday, March 17 ~ LANGFORD. Rugby Canada’s Chairman Awards each year recognize members of the rugby community who have gone above and beyond to support the organization. 

Rugby Canada Chairman Tim Powers acknowledged support by the City of Langford since the 2012 opening of the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence and office in Langford, followed in 2014 by providing an opportunity to build a high-performance training centre across the street on Glen Lake  Road.

The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre officially opened February 27, 2018.

Powers recognized five people with awards for pulling together the training centre, starting with City of Langford Mayor Stewart Young who was instrumental in securing the land and funding opportunities that allowed Rugby Canada to break ground and kick off a campaign to help fund the new building.

The HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament attracted over 77,000 fans to BC Place, March 10-11. [Derek Stevens photo]

The award ceremony was held on March 8 as part of getting the excitement rolling for the HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens Vancouver Tournament at BC Stadium, March 10-11.

Langford hopes to attract bigger sporting events to Westhills Stadium once seating is expanded.


Construction of the McKenzie Interchange.

Saturday, March 17 ~ GREATER VICTORIA TRAFFIC ADVISORY. Cyclists and pedestrians are advised of a temporary detour Saturday March 17 and Sunday March 18 along the Galloping Goose Trail, between Grange Road and Belgrave Road. It’s part of ongoing work for the McKenzie interchange project.

The detour will allow rock-scaling operations to be completed along this section of the trail to prepare for retaining-wall construction, and to reinforce the foundation of the pathway.

Given that the Galloping Goose Trail is used by many for their weekday commutes, the ministry scheduled the detour over the weekend to limit disruption for as many people as possible. Due to the precise nature of scaling operations, work must be done in daylight, as opposed to overnight.

Signage along the trail has notified cyclists and pedestrians of the upcoming detour since Friday, March 9. The detour route will be posted and monitored by the contractor throughout the weekend.


Announcement of $23.2 million in funding to build a 600-seat expansion at Royal Bay Secondary, on March 16, 2018 at the school. Accompanying the students, front row (from left): student leader Maddy Morrison, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin), Education Minister Rob Fleming, Royal Bay Principal Windy Beadall; back row: First Nations leader Vic Peter, and SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, March 16 ~ COLWOOD. Expansion of Royal Bay Secondary school announced today.

Royal Bay Secondary school with a student population of 1,085 is beyond the building’s original capacity of 800 students. So it was a welcome announcement today in the school gym by BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming that $23.2 million has been provided to Sooke School District 62 (SD62) for expansion of the school to accommodate 1,400 students. Construction will begin this September, with the additional student spaces expected to be ready by Fall 2020.

With an audience well over 120 people — including a full gym class of Royal Bay students plus SD62 trustees and senior staff, Langford councillors and senior staff, BC Ministry of Education staff, and media — Minister Fleming said that SD62 is the fastest growing school district in BC, and that every student should have a proper learning environment. “It’s an amazing community that is growing an incredible pace. It’s a great area for young families in Greater Victoria, but with growth is facing some unique challenges,” said Fleming. “As a government we are trying to ensure that our investments are able to keep up with the kinds of change that we’re seeing in dynamic areas like this one.”

Fleming reiterated the BC NDP government philosophy that “education is a critical investment for our province” that contributes to future prosperity and economic diversity of BC. Fleming said that education in a positive school environment helps students prepare for an ever-changing world, giving them the tools to succeed in building “happy good quality lives, contributing to their community, and be able to live in a beautiful community like this”. He called the $23.2 million a long overdue investment. “A positive learning environment is exactly what students deserve.”

Royal Bay Secondary school, March 16, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

The additional classroom spaces will replace what is now a count of 10 portable classrooms (the number of which could very likely increase before Fall 2020). SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge says the portables are well-equipped with new desks, chair, projectors and WiFi, but that being out in a portable lends to a disconnect from the main flow of the school action. Royal Bay has a bright open lobby, an active social Commons area, a vibrant and spacious learning centre, food services area and lounge areas in the hallways near the lockers.

“In Sooke School District 62 we make sure we’re ahead of the curve, ahead of the growth,” said SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar today during the formal announcement.  The previous government built schools to current capacity. The current government is working to population projections. Parmar explained that SD62 will work with the same architect that designed the school for its opening in Fall 2015.

“This school board knows how to do construction on time and on budget, and on an aggressive timetable,” said Minister Fleming. In addition to the government’s funding, SD62 is contributing $2 million from their capital fund. There will be 21 new classrooms and a second smaller gym, an additional level added to make the building a 3-storey structure, and 120 more parking stalls.

Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) and BC Education Minister Rob Fleming lace up to play a bit of soccer March 16 at Royal Bay Secondary. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Introductions were made at this morning’s announcement host Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) in whose riding Royal Bay Secondary was essentially a hub around which the Royal Bay community has grown. Accompanying Fleming and Dean at the podium and backed up by a group of teen soccer players, were Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Royal Bay Secondary Principal Windy Beadall, and a student leadership rep Maddy Morrison.

Fleming added that about 95% of the hiring that has needed to be done has been done to restore class ratio since the Supreme Court settlement in 2016. School districts got $50 million to hire more teachers. Teachers have been recruited in the past year from other provinces.

There are still gaps for specialist teachers, said Fleming. There are shortages for French Immersion teachers, which Fleming said is being addressed, including recruiting French-speaking teachers from Belgium and France; the demand for French in the classrooms has increased 30% in the last 10 years, he said. A fund of $1 million has been established for recruitment and retention. Fleming expects a report in the next six weeks with recommendations to help train new teachers in ways to improve retention, starting with September 2018 intake.

Royal Bay Secondary is in Colwood. Land for two new schools in Langford (one elementary, one middle school) was announced in December 2017. SD62 operates schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, serving families in those communities as well as Highlands, Metchosin, and Juan de Fuca in East Sooke and up to Port Renfrew.


Millstream Overpass in Langford (March 12, 2018) – West Shore Voice News photo

Friday, March 16 ~ LANGFORD.  For one day next week — Wednesday March 21 – the City of Langford is asking motorists to avoid use of the Millstream Overpass during some improvements for traffic signal installation on the overpass and on Hwy 1. All signals and streetlights in that area will be without power on that day in that commercial area of Langford, says the city’s engineering department.

Motorists travelling southbound on the Trans Canada (TCH/ Hwy 1) can use the Exit 16 Leigh Road interchange. Motorists travelling northbound can use Exit 15 McCallum Road to access the Millstream Corridor.

The work cannot be done at night due to the power supply being offline during the installation from 7 am to about 9 pm. The contractor Raylec Power has indicated they will manage the project so that the street lighting portion does not remain off when dusk occurs later in the day. Sunset is at 7:28 pm PDT on March 21.

Traffic control personnel will be on the overpass working within an approved Traffic Management Plan. Three lane closure trucks and six personnel are anticipated throughout the work zone, or more, to ensure safe passage for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Emergency vehicles will be given priority. March 21 is during spring break for schools in the area, with less of a traffic load expected.

The overall Millstream Overpass project is on schedule. aiming to complete by April 30.

Read this article a separate HTML page

Wednesday, March 14 ~ LANGFORD. An increase in the number of Langford residents seeking assistance with federal programs has prompted a change in hours at Alistair MacGregor, MP’s constituency office in Langford. 

Effective Tuesday, March 20, Alistair MacGregor’s Langford community office hours will change to include both Tuesdays and Wednesdays for drop-ins 10 am to 3 pm.

The office at 3202B Happy Valley Rd (at the corner of Sooke Road) will also accept appointments for outside of those drop-in hours.

MacGregor’s team can help constituents with inquiries relating to federal programs and services, such as:

  • Immigration and citizenship applications
  • Visitor visas and Canadian passports
  • Employment Insurance, income taxes, other federal taxes & benefits
  • Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Federal Funding

“I am here to ensure that my constituents of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford have a strong voice in Parliament and I encourage constituents to contact my office with any federal concerns,” stated MacGregor. “When I am not in Ottawa, I am always happy to meet with residents of Langford and discuss how we can build a better Canada.”

You can reach MacGregor’s office by phone at 1-886-609-9998 or by email at alistair.macgregor@parl.gc.ca 


Wednesday, March 14 ~ COASTAL BC.  BC Ferries will add extra sailings on their busiest routes for the Easter Long Weekend.

From March 29 to April 3, the additional sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island — on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route and the HorseshoeBay/Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay/Langdale routes.

The most popular travel times are expected to be mid-day Thursday March 29 to late morning Friday March 30, with traffic returning on the holiday Monday, April 2 in the afternoon.

Checking the bcferries.com website and making reservations are options for busy travellers.

Early morning and late evening sailings are available on select sailings during the Easter long weekend and Spring Break travel period. From March 15 to April 3, standard under-height vehicles with driver can travel from $39 on the four main routes.

SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke, a CRD facility. [Photo March 12, 2018 by West Shore Voice News]

Monday, March 12 ~ SOOKE. Sooke to get a recreation boost with SEAPARC upgrade: fitness gym, multi-purpose room

SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke will soon see construction of a new fitness gym and additional multi-purpose space thanks to a $1.24 million Federal Gas Tax Fund grant announced by the CRD on Friday, March 9.

Topped up with $1.5 million from SEAPARC’s reserve funds, the expansion will increase the 51,020 sq ft complex footprint by about 5,150 sqft (3,600 sq ft for the gym and 1,550 for the studio). “This was a shovel-ready project,” says SEAPARC manager Steve Knoke.

“We’ve been saving for four or five years to be in a position to build something,” says SEAPARC Chair and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks.  A previous grant application for Canada 150 funding in 2017 was declined.

A few years ago Sooke and Juan de Fuca (JdF) residents provided input about what additional facilities the complex might need and what the design options could include (e.g. one level with expanded footprint, or two levels with elevator).

The average Sooke household pays $307.91 a year toward SEAPARC through property taxes, says Knoke. In JdF the average annual pay-in is $178.19. Each year SEAPARC’s board puts about $350,000 into capital reserves to help fund improvements which have included the roof, pool, skate park and bike park.

The project will take an estimated 18 to 24 months to complete. Many factors come into play regarding the construction schedule. This is early in the planning phase.  SEAPARC says at this point a detailed construction timeline is yet to come.


Revenues from large backlit promotional signage on Island Highway go into capital reserves at West Shore Parks and Recreation [West Shore Voice News photo – March 2018]

Sunday, March 11 ~ WEST SHORE.  [Article first published in the March 9, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News]

The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests.

The West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) facility at 1767 Island Highway in Colwood serves a cluster of communities in the region and is modestly but proudly home to a wide range of sport and recreation interests. It’s the long-time integration of programs and services provided by WSPR that contributes to its powerful but relatively understated presence.

Most people know it’s there — the main building and arena seen from the Island Highway front a huge 108-acre chunk of land that includes a golf course, the Q Centre, the Juan de Fuca library, and a seniors centre. In spring, Easter egg hunts are enjoyed by families on one of the lawns and in summer there’s a joyful noise with the Rock the Shores concert weekend drawing thousands of youth.

In recent years WSPR has hosted an oversize LED highway advertising display board, so bright at night. The revenue-generation of the highway sign is good. At the March 8 WSPR board meeting it was reported that after sign management was assigned to the Jim Pattison enterprise that revenues have increased to an even higher level, even though the revenue split is now 50/50 instead of 70% to WSPR and 30% to the former signage provider.

Financial issues of WSPR have been the subject of municipal and public debate in recent weeks, especially following a strong public statement by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 in response to a slow-brewing effort (over years) by Langford to see a reassessment of how much each of the municipality owners are paying into the operations and capital reserves of WSPR.

Unlike many other recreation facilities in the Greater Victoria area being owned and operated by the Capital Regional District (CRD) or individual municipalities, WSPR is owned and funded by five west shore municipalities: Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. Until last year, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) was also a joint owner, but they stepped out of the arena, so to speak, since only 0.5% of their Malahat-area residents were using the facility (at a cost of $26,000 for JDFEA to belong to the WSPR agreement) due to highway travel time impediments.

The lion’s share of the requisitions from the five member municipalities is paid by Langford, as the present WSPR funding formula is based on population. The sticking point for Langford is that they are a rapidly-growing municipality that has been proactively building their own recreation facilities in recent years including an ice rink and arena, bowling alley, and sport fields. Langford also welcomed the YM/YWCA that opened in the Westhills neighbourhood in spring 2016.

Technically speaking, Langford taxpayers are contributing to both WSPR (at the same percentage level as always) and to the operational costs of the facilities in Langford. Recreation facilities in Langford are used by residents from a wide region, not just Langford. In fact, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns was excited to point out at the Vision 2018 Westshore event on February 1 that the rural no-growth Metchosin doesn’t have to build its own expensive facilities because Langford is doing it there, right next door.

Langford does alright with their facilities, some years generating a relatively small profit after covering the operational costs. Langford swings the cost of building new rec facilities in large part due to donations from property developers (e.g. Sobey’s is paying in about $2.5 million as they get rolling with their newest Thrifty Foods, at Belmont Market).

Recreation is a costly municipal service, but considered to be an essential one for most municipalities for serving the activity needs of all ages (a tangible thing) and inherent in that the well-being of the community (a qualitative achievement evidenced in overall resident satisfaction). Very much so in Langford, where mayor and council are gung-ho for providing active opportunities to youth and the sporting community. And the costs for that have been not just financial but now there are the costs of political adjustments within WSPR.

Langford has for a few years now has raised a red flag over WSPR operational expenditure increases as pointing to inefficienices and a need for reviewing internal operations.  And increasingly, Langford’s mayor has pointed out that Langford’s financial contribution to WSPR has increased (due to population increases under the current formula) even though Langford continues to expand its own recreation infrastructure footprint.

Frustrations are mounting. Councils in both Langford and Colwood declined to approve the 2018 WSPR budget. “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2. Colwood essentially claims, in part, that they do their fair share (in addition to the requisition payment), noting in their March 1 release that Colwood waives WSPR property taxes (this year $736,267).  Here are some WSPR 2018 budget numbers. Revenues (e.g. facility rentals, activity fees and rec passes) are projected as $5,953,298 while expenses are nearly double that at $11,643,688. The requisitions paid in by the five member municipalities amount to $4,968,945 which (with ‘transfers in’ at $721,445) brings the spreadsheet to balance at zero.

As much as $225,000 may need to be transfered in from capital reserves said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns this week, to maintain WSPR in 2018. That concerns some mayors; the use of reserve capital funds was also the subject of brief discussion at the March 8 WSPR board meeting which is attended by municipal Councillors as reps (not the mayors) as well as volunteer community appointees. The reserve fund of over $2.1 million has been built up to pay for infrastructure repairs and upgrades; WSPR chair Ed Watson itemizes arena floor repairs, repairing the skin of the pool, upgrading the arena including the washrooms, and upgrading the pool washrooms.

A wild card for the 2018 budget is whatever the result will be from CUPE negotiations, with pay increases expected to push up the level of expenses for WSPR. As for anyone who pays into anything, there needs to be a sense of value for payment. From a business model standpoint, WSPR could be seen as operating at a significant loss (i.e. expenses far outstrip revenues). But as a community service with perceived value to all residents, the municipalities contribute taxpayer dollars that make up the difference. “It’s a subsidy paid by municipal governments to provide recreational services to their communities,” says Watson. He notes that the partner municipalities could also apply for grants (such as the Federal Gas Tax funds) to help boost WSPR funding.

As the 30-year agreement of the now five municipalities comes up to its end date in a few years, it’s no surprise to see political shuffling toward rejigging the balance of contribution. Indeed, there could be an overall review of operations and possibly even the mission of WSPR to the region. Independent consultant Jonathan Huggett has been engaged to review the full scope of factors and implications. And so far, Langford in particular has agreed to stand by the conclusions and recommendations.

In her March 1 statement, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said: “Colwood is fighting for West Shore Parks and Recreation’s survival by advocating for a sustainable financial plan. We risk losing West Shore Parks and Recreation if owner municipalities act in their own interests rather than honouring their contractual obligations.”

Langford sees a need for assessment after having built seven recreation amenities in the last seven years (after what Langford Mayor Young experienced as political frustration for far too long at WSPR). Young sees taking timely action to serve the needs of the bustling growing Langford as fully justifiable. He says he looks forward to the consultant’s report which could provide a new formula that recognizes the mix of recreation use ‘across municipal borders’ so to speak, in balance with recreation amenities used by residents in their own municipality. Gathering statistics to support this will likely be key.

BC Green MLA Sonia Furstenau

Thursday, March 8 ~ Today on International Women’s Day, BC Green Party Deputy Leader Sonia Furstenau issued the following statement:

“Today in British Columbia and around world we celebrate the accomplishments of women. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, inspired by a time of growing activism around the world,” said Furstenau.

Furstenau also tabled a petition from Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) requesting the restoration of core funding. Following 2004 funding cuts, one half of BC’s women-serving organizations were forced to close. The WAVAW petition says that while the organization is heartened by recent project funding for counselling services in the 2018 provincial budget, core funding will provide greater stability. Due to lack of core funding, WAVAW presently has an 18 month waitlist for counselling services.

“In the past year we have seen another Women’s March, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, and more. Yet in spite of this, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap reports that gender parity is still 200 years away. Women continue to face disproportionate levels of violence, experience poverty at higher rates and have limited access to education and healthcare. These problems are especially prevalent for LGBTQ+ women, differently abled women, women of colour and Indigenous women.

“The BC Green Party is proud to take part in the International Women’s Day celebrations and to recognize the women in our lives. We celebrate today on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen, Songhees and Esquimalt peoples, whose Missing and Murdered Sisters demonstrate the tragic and ongoing effect of colonial gender-based violence in our community.

Today, as proud feminists, we voice our support for the global movement towards gender parity. We will fight for a future without gender-based violence, where women of all backgrounds are heard, believed and represented equally in all of our institutions.”


Wednesday, March 7 ~ Tomorrow March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year in particular sees the federal and BC governments taking heed of gender equity. Here is the BC Government statement from Premier John Horgan and Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Mitzi Dean:

“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the work of women who have stood up against sexism and discrimination, and we recommit to advancing equity each and every day.

“We are doing our part by making gender equity a priority across government, and making choices that lift women up. That is why our latest budget works toward gender equity by taking real steps to make life more affordable, to improve the services people count on, and to build a strong, inclusive economy.

“Our investments in child care, the largest in BC history, will help parents, especially women, build families while pursuing their careers.

“Our increase to the minimum wage will boost incomes for the lowest-paid people in BC, which will disproportionately benefit women.

“We are also working hard to break down barriers and open up careers for women in trades. Women deserve the opportunity to pursue these rewarding, high-paying jobs, and we need their help building the province.

“Everyone has the right to live without fear. That’s why our latest budget reverses years of declining supports and provides ongoing funding for the services women and girls depend on, including housing, counselling, and crisis supports for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“We have shown our belief in equity from the very first day of government, by swearing in British Columbia’s first gender-equal cabinet.

“Together we are building a stronger, fairer and more-inclusive province, where everyone has the chance to realize their full potential.”

The BC Government has launched a survey to find out how BC residents feel about automated and online ticket sales.

Tuesday, March 6 ~ VICTORIA. The BC government announced today March 6 that it is “moving to clamp down on high-priced ticket scalping to make live-event tickets more affordable for British Columbians”, and may even ban automated ‘bots’.

“Live events should be an enjoyable experience for British Columbians, not a windfall for scalpers,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “The action we’re taking is aimed at protecting people from unscrupulous scalpers and unfair practices that shut average people out from events in BC.”

A three-week survey (launched March 6, running to about March 26) has been launched online at //www.engage.gov.bc.ca/ticketbuying where BC residents may indicate their experiences with ticket buying, reselling, and buying from resellers. Survey results will be used to develop recommendations for improving affordability, fairness and transparency.

“British Columbians are frustrated by ticket price gouging, and want action,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End. “Working with the people of BC, our government is acting and will develop and bring forward new consumer protections to help make the ticket-buying experience fairer and more affordable.” Improving improving fairness and transparency is the government’s goal, to inform the creation of suitable legislation.

The 30-question survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. It is aimed at people in BC who buy tickets for live events, and those who sometimes resell their tickets, to ensure that changes will improve fairness and transparency in how tickets for live events are bought and sold. Survey results will be publicly available later in the spring.

The public consultation will look to find out specifics on how people feel about parts of the ticket-buying process, such as: how often they purchase event tickets (from resellers, online, through a venue, etc.); experiences reselling tickets; and what changes are needed to improve the fairness in the buying and selling process.

British Columbians have many opportunities to see sports, concerts, live theatre and other cultural or recreational events throughout the province. This survey will help shape the way government gives everyone a fair chance at seeing their desired events.

Alberta and Ontario have passed legislation and had public consultations on ticket-buying practices, and acted on this issue. A Canada-wide Angus Reid poll showed that four in five Canadians would agree with outright banning of software (“bots”) to jump the queue when tickets go on sale; that poll showed that 50% of Canadians feel it’s up to governments to make the necessary changes to protect Canadians. Additionally, the poll said most Canadians see ticket reselling as a significant problem, and 80% believe that purchasing tickets with the specific purpose of reselling them is unfair.


Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Monday, March 5 ~ Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor will be welcoming Jagmeet Singh on Vancouver Island this week, sharing the floor with the national NDP Leader at a community meet-and-greet in Duncan on Wednesday, March 7.

Members of the community are welcome to come and have a conversation with the two politicians about federal government policy and priorities for Parliament.

The get-together will be held at the Ramada Duncan at 140 Trans Canada Highway, from 4:30 to 6 pm.

MacGregor is presently promoting the “Create Your Canada” contest that gives Grade 11 & 12 students in the riding the opportunity to engage in making Canada a better place by creating an idea for a Private Member’s Bill. The winning student(s) will have the opportunity to travel to Ottawa to watch MP MacGregor present their idea to the House of Commons for First Reading.

“I am very excited to give students in my riding the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and participate in law-making firsthand,” stated MacGregor. “The young people of this country are our future, and I am thrilled to have this chance to encourage our youth to get involved in politics and think about how we can create a better Canada.”

The deadline for submissions to the “Create Your Canada” contest is April 30, 2018. Students may enter individually or in groups of two. More info: http://alistairmacgregor.ndp.ca/create-your-canada-contest


Revenues from large backlit promotional signage on Island Highway go into capital reserves at West Shore Parks and Recreation [West Shore Voice News photo – March 2018]

Sunday, March 4 ~ WEST SHORE. Colwood slams Langford over rec centre funding.  A zinger of a statement was issued by Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton on March 1 and widely distributed in the community and to media by her municipal communications department.

The letter from Colwood’s mayor said that Langford was not meeting its financial obligation to West Shore Parks & Recreation (WSPR) which is jointly owned and operated by Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands. The WSPR agreement sets out a formula for different levels of financial obligation from each of the municipalities based on resident use of the facilities and services. [The agreement used to include the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, but they backed out a year ago or so.]

A good west shore corporate citizen, Langford still pays the largest share of revenues into WSPR ($2.5 million per year) but “Langford cannot be a cash cow for something that is not managed properly,” Langford Mayor Stew Young said March 2.

Two years ago when the WSPR budget hit $5 million, Langford identified operational inefficiencies at WSPR causing what that municipality considered an unfair financial burden their Langford taxpayers who already support their own facilities built in the last several years (including arena, bowling alley, City Centre, Goudy Field, Westhills Stadium).
Hence Langford not approving the WSPR budget for the last two years.

“We’ve told (WSPR) that their budget doesn’t make sense. They do nothing with their reserves,” says Mayor Young. In Langford the recreation budget breaks even or better “because we chase revenue… we’re open for business,” says Mayor Young.

As one example, Langford’s Mayor points out that revenues from the large bright LED roadside sign in front of the West Shore Parks and Recreation Centre at 1767 Island Highway are directed by the WSPR board into capital reserves, not into operating costs. He feels that’s one example of where revenues are being misdirected, at least in the short term.

This year Colwood Council has also not approved the 2018 WSPR budget (now at about $6 million) because it shows the facility running at a deficit. This forces a bit of public debate, which is now rearing its head.

One person, Curtis Price, posted this on Facebook in recent days: “Hey Colwood, why don’t you start building like Langford. Get developers that can finish job make it easier for developers for want to build in Colwood. Langford got tired of waiting years ago for Colwood to jump on board. So yes of course they have no real interest in West Shore Parks and Rec. They built everything they needed in their own backyard.”

Mayor Hamilton says continuing to run WSPR at a deficit will certainly mean service cuts and likely force the shutdown of the WSPR within five years. Meanwhile, Colwood supports WSPR  by foregoing property taxes on the property at a value of $736,267.

[This is an expanded version of the article first published in the March 2, 2018 issue of West Shore Voice News, page 2] | Read this article on its own separate page


Many speakers paid tribute to former BC Premier Dave Barrett, on Saturday March 3, 2018. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, March 3 ~ VICTORIA. The presence of former Premier Dave Barrett loomed large today. Not only on the screen above the stage at the State Memorial in his honour, but in the hearts of everyone there and those watching via livestream.

Nearly 1,000 people attended at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium for the 10 am occasion.

By all accounts, this is a man who is now fully and joyfully remembered as both a ‘giant’ of the people and a ‘giantslayer’ of lesser glories. He was BC’s 26th Premier.

Former BC Dave Barrett during a short three-year term in office (1972-1975) is forever in the history books for preserving agricultural land in BC by creating the Agricultural Land Reserve, bringing in public automobile insurance so that all vehicle owners could be covered, and creating Pharmacare drug plan coverage for seniors. His government brought in Hansard and Question Period in the legislature, and abolished corporal punishment in schools. And making all that possible his nimble political fervor brought down a 40-year-run of the right-of-centre Socred government of the day.

Speakers delivering tributes included BC Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, Premier John Horgan, Retired Roman Catholic Bishop Remi J de Roo, Former BC Minister of Labour Bill King (former MLA Shuswap-Revelstoke), former BC Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources Bob Williams (former MLA Vancouver East), Former BC Cabinet Minister and MLA (Vancouver-Hastings) and now Chair of ICBC Joy McPhail, and Marc Elisen who was Barrett’s Deputy Minister and Planning Secretary.

Lt Gov Judith Guichon acknowledged Barrett as BC’s first NDP premier, calling him a champion of the underdog. “He is part of the very fabric of the province,” Guichon said, noting that 357 Bills were passed in the Legislature during his time in office.

BC Premier John Horgan addressed the crowd with this: “He captured the hearts of each and every one of you.”  Remarking further on Barrett’s power of oratory, Horgan noted in particular Barrett’s “passion and power of the message of social justice”. Horgan declared that no one will ever forget Dave Barrett.

Barrett’s three grown children spoke about their father with memories, fondness, and emotion.

The on-stage emcee today for the 1-hour-20-minute occasion was BC Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James.  A powerful rendition of O Canada was led by a Grade 10 student from Esquimalt High School, Isolde Welby. On stage ahead of the formal portion was the Chroma String Quartet.

Visual presentations on the large screen were modest and brief. The entire event was light-hearted, with a good balance of remembering Dave Barrett for both his political contributions and his happy family life. His wife Shirley attended, and was clearly seen by everyone in her husband’s life as a steady, loving source of support.

In the audience was a wide range of VIPs and the general public, many of whom have been long-time NDP supporters. Mayors of many of Greater Victoria’s municipalities were there, as well as several MLAs.

Dave Barrett (October 2, 1930 to February 2, 2018) had Alzheimer’s leading up to his death at age 87.


Saturday, March 3 ~ LANGFORD. This week’s West Shore Voice News print/PDF issue is our “Langford Action” issue.

This past week was the official opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada Training Centre and also the groundbreaking for the Belmont Residences property… both of those a kilometer’s distance of one another. Quite the bustling town! Both of those stories on page 1.

Colwood took a bit of a swipe against Langford over the West Shore Parks and Recreation budget… see page 4.

Plus lots else going on, not the least of which is BC residents not getting a one-year hydro rate increase freeze afterall.

Check it out in the March 2nd issue.

Millstream Overpass Improvement Project aiming for completion by April 30, 2018 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, March 1 ~ LANGFORD. On Monday, March 5 at the Millstream Road Interchange, one of the northbound right turn lanes heading onto Hwy 1 (Trans Canada) to Victoria will be closed for roadworks.

The curb lane will remain open for traffic, while the adjacent lane will taper into the curb lane past the intersection with Peatt Rd/Strandlund Ave.

The lane configuration will remain a permanent feature or this interchange, as a way to accommodate the dual left turns for southbound Millstream Rd. That’s where there is a heavier traffic load from the McCallum Road big-box stores commercial (and future additional residential development) side of the intersection (which is also handling more traffic from the Bear Mountain area).

Mon March 5: right turn exit from Veterans Memorial Parkway onto Hwy 1 will be reduced to one lane (from two).

The City of Langford Engineering says traffic studies support having one lane taking traffic from northbound Veterans Memorial Parkway (from the Goldstream side of town) onto Hwy 1, instead of two.

“Please obey all traffic control personnel and drive with caution in the work zone,” say Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

The Millstream Overpass Improvement Project includes the southbound additional left turn lane as well as pedestrian and cycling improvements. Construction during winter/spring 2018, aiming for completion around April 30.


Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

Wednesday, February 28 ~ WEST SHORE.  Exclusive – by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News.

There have been difficult decisions made by Sooke School District 62 (SD62) over the years, not the least of which was cutbacks affecting classrooms and teachers a few years ago due to insufficient government funding for a fast-growing school district. Movement to a board decision on large issues occurs over weeks and months, sometimes years.

But last night’s SD62 board meeting decision about whether to waive school tax fees to support an affordable housing project in Sooke brought out more discomfort for trustees and senior staff than seen for any deliberations in the past six years. Even the most complex of budget issues in the past did not have so much said, and so much left unspoken.

The issue was whether SD62 — which is responsible to deliver public education to families in Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca — would waive school taxes for the Knox Vision Society 42-unit apartment-unit housing complex in Sooke. In terms of dollars, the request would mean a savings of $23,436 for the Knox Vision Society, or about 2% of their construction budget. That might seem like a drop in the bucket for a large project, but for SD62 that is money not going to education, which is the mandate of a school district board.

SD62 Treasurer Harold Cull explained to the board that if they were to approve the waiver, that the $23,436 would be that much less in School Site Acquisition Charges. That’s money for buying land upon which to build new schools (not directly out of classroom budgets).

Fast-forward, the motion to waive the fees did pass — Knox will get the $23,436. But it was a tight vote, with trustees Wendy Hobbs, Dianna Seaton and Margot Swinburnson voting against the motion (voting for the motion were SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Vice-Chair Bob Phillips, Neil Poirier and Denise Riley). Overall, the opposing views were that education dollars should remain within serving the direct needs of providing schools and education. “Stick to your knitting” was how Trustee Seaton put it at one point. Additionally, Cendra Beaton (rep for Canadian Parents for French) said the decision would not go over well with parents in the west shore.

What wasn’t said around the board table — but spoke loud and clear through uncomfortable body language and winding pre-vote commentary — is that there was something ‘off’ about this request from a church society-turned-developer. Something didn’t sit right with the request itself, let alone the requirement to respond. One trustee noted that the District of Sooke has openly and strongly supported the affordable housing project as part of helping their community (Sooke waived about $171,000 in development cost charges toward the Knox project), that other municipalities (noting Langford) and other affordable housing developers (noting Pacifica Housing) have not requested assistance from SD62. The BC Government recently announced its commitment of $5.5 million toward the project.

Trustee Margot Swinburnson explained her dilemma: “Last night was uncomfortable for me personally. The main reason why is that I wholeheartedly support the build by Knox. But I could not ethically support it as a school trustee, guarding our funds for education. So I was very torn about it,” she told West Shore Voice News afterward.

It is only recently that SD62 and other growing school districts have enjoyed the relief from new BC NDP government funding to hire more teachers and relieve other ‘cost pressures’ in the education delivery system. The scars of working through tough-times budgets left a mark on senior staff and most trustees that reminded them of how every dollar counts.

If it can be said that the dollars toward the Knox project (which started as a seniors building then shifted to a broader affordable housing mission statement) will truly help more families with school-age children better afford to live in Sooke, there is some justification for the trustees who voted in favour of the motion. But there was no discussion about requiring accountability for the receipt of funds, such as requiring a report on how many families with children will be ending up in the larger suites (the building will have 15 1-bdrm units, 24 2-bedroom units, and three 3-bedroom units).

Yes, people and communities need affordable housing, but this board truly struggled with whether funding support for that should come from education funds. On top of that, Cull noted that the NDP Government’s new Medical Services Tax now being levied on corporations and entities with payrolls over $500,000 (like the school board) will likely produce a 1% increase in staffing costs for 2018-2019.

Money is a reality in education. It takes money to buy land for schools, and of course it takes money to pay teachers and supply the classrooms with all the many things it takes to deliver the modern curriculum. The February 27 decision at SD62’s evening board meeting is showing the tip of the iceberg over how educators, government and probably now also parents are starting to explore the many aspects of how affordability — in this case housing and education — are playing out in the financial decisions that underpin everything. ~ MPB

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before delivery of Budget 2018 in the House of Commons, February 27. [Web / Canadian Press on CBC]

Tuesday, February 27 ~ NATIONAL. The third federal budget of this present Liberal government was tabled today February 27 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau. 

Billed largely as a budget to carry over to something more election-oriented in 2019, this 2018 Budget still makes good on several Liberal directions. The highest profile rollout was various approaches to gender equity in the workforce including more paid leave for the non-birth parent, along with support for innovation through funding in science and technology.

For the business community there was nothing particularly joyful, in a budget that held the course but did not offer the sort of tax cuts or investment incentives that businesses like to see. Even the capital support for women entrepreneurs is funneled through more backing for the Business Development Bank which isn’t for small startups; the rest of support for women entrepreneurs is the soft stuff — training, mentoring and networking.

The struggling newspaper industry may see some support, but in ways that push journalism into the non-profit sector. This could be seen as fallout for the bad corporate behaviour of some media giants that have spoiled it for smaller players. It also allows government to avoid any criticism for upset to larger newspapers in established markets. This limits real small business competition in the newspaper business.

Psychiatric comfort dog wears the Wounded Warriors banner at an event in Langford February 25. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Something lobbied for out of the Victoria region and by Wounded Warriors Canada nationally, is more funding for psychiatric support dogs for veterans and others with PTSD, seen reflected in today’s budget.

The federal budget boasts that unemployment is at its lowest level in four decades, but that is true of almost every developed nation globally this year.

Overall, the Liberal theme of making life better for the middle class “and those working hard to join it” has enough life breathed into it in this budget to carry the Liberals into 2019 for what is likely a repeat performance on that theme in the 2019 election.

The new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre officially opens February 27, 2018 in Langford, BC [West Shore Voice News file photo Jan 2018]

Tuesday, February 27 ~ LANGFORD.  Rugby Canada, in partnership with the City of Langford, is celebrating today the official opening of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre in Langford, BC. Langford Mayor Stew Young and Allen Vansen, CEO, Rugby Canada will mark the occasion later today during a special ribbon-cutting event onsite at the Glen Lake Road facility.

The new 2-storey, 1,900 sq m performance training centre will serve as the home to all of Rugby Canada’s national teams, as well support the training needs of other high performance amateur athletes in the region. It is seen as an economic generator for the west shore region.

The Centre represents the single largest investment ever made by Rugby Canada in its pursuit to grow the sport in Canada. Team operations are now centralized in Langford, in support of building international competitiveness.

Funding for the capital construction project included a federal government contribution of $2,935,250 through the Building Canada Fund – Major Infrastructure Component, as well as $2.5 million in repayable contributions from the City of Langford, along with over $2.6 million in private donations raised by Rugby Canada to date.

Weight lifting area in the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre, Langford, Bc [West Shore Voice News photo]

The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre has been designed to create the best daily training environment possible, centralizing all the necessary aspects of high performance training. The centre features a state of the art gymnasium featuring elite strength and conditioning equipment, onsite therapy and treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pools, locker rooms, meeting rooms set up for video analysis, kitchen and dining lounge, and three double occupancy bedroom studio units.

The Centre is located adjacent to Westhills Stadium, further complementing the enhanced resources available to Rugby Canada’s national teams. To build on the legacy of rugby in Canada, the facility will also feature the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Centre is now in active use by all of Rugby Canada’s national teams as they continue preparations for upcoming international competition.

Federal attention has been paid to this facility. “Infrastructure investments are all about communities and people, and we are proud to be supporting Canada’s amateur athletes through this new and improved high-calibre training facility,” says The Honourable Amarajeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. The Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre will be a major recreation hub for Vancouver Island, attracting even more visitors and tourists and providing new economic opportunities for residents. Projects like this help ensure Canadian communities remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family,” he says.

Langford has been behind the training centre project right from the start. Says Langford Mayor Stew Young: “Langford is proud to be the home of Rugby Canada. From the installation of a World Rugby certified turf, to the construction of this high performance training facility, to the pending expansion of Westhills Stadium, Langford is committed to working with all levels of government and the development community to ensure that all high performance athletes have the resources they need to train right here in Langford.”

Mayor Young says the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre has been made possible by the hard work of so many people. He is pleased to see that the centre will not only serve as the home base for Rugby Canada athletes, coaches, trainers and management for many years to come, but will also support the training needs of other high performance athletes in the region.

Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen says: “It’s been incredible to see this world-class facility coming to life thanks to the dedicated support of the Government of Canada, the City of Langford, the Canadian rugby community, and the many contractors and service providers who have worked tirelessly to see this project through to its completion. It’s these strong partnerships that are creating an exciting future for the sport of rugby in Canada where our high-performance athletes of today and tomorrow, will have the resources and the facilities they need to achieve unprecedented success on the world stage.”

“A facility of this caliber is a game changer for those of us in the program right now, and for the generations of young players coming after us,” says Harry Jones, Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team Captain. This kind of support is hugely motivating, and we can all benefit from being together to learn from each other, and push each other to build an even stronger rugby culture that’s founded in honour and excellence.”

Langford Mayor Stew Young presents Wounded Warriors rep Channing Knull with donation from Langford city, developers, & Bear Mountain Resort. [West Shore Voice News photos – Feb 25 2018]

Monday, February 26 ~ LANGFORD. Now having supported the Wounded Warriors PTSD trauma support program for four years, the City of Langford and Bear Mountain Resort co-hosted a recognition event at the resort on Sunday morning, February 25. About 80 people attended.

During speeches and presentations, Langford Mayor Stew Young was pleased to announce a combined (Langford city and developers, and Bear Mountain) donation of $5,000 to Wounded Warriors, bringing this year’s donation total to $70,000.

A seven-day run by a group of veterans who are dealing with PTSD covered over 600km starting at Port Hardy and ending in Victoria yesterday. On Sunday their last day of the run, the team left Mill Bay at 8 am, made their stop at Bear Mountain as the first users of the new Bear Mountain Parkway, then stopped at Save On Foods, Langford Legion and the View Royal Fire Department. That was followed by a small ceremony at the Afghan War Memorial in downtown Victoria, then a run to the finish line at the BC Legislature, for some closing ceremonies. The weather was cold with some occasional snow and rain, but bright.

Wounded Warriors runners make a pit stop at Bear Mountain Resort, Feb 25 [West Shore Voice News photo]

One of the Wounded Warriors programs called COPE (Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday) was developed by LCol (retired) Chris Linford, his wife Kathryn and Dr Tim Black PhD, R Psych. Linford and his wife retired to the Sooke area several years ago, where Linford found time to pen a book on his PTSD experiences and which helped launch the COPE program.

The COPE program is offered in both English and French. In its first year, the program was offered four times. This year that’s up to nine times, says Linford. Wounded Warriors hears from as many as four applicants per day for support programs. That includes from emergency nurses, corrections officers and sheriffs. Linford told the crowd that people have “embraced the process of being well”.

The event yesterday highlighted how first responders such as police, fire and ambulance workers have been asking for more supportive programs like Wounded Warriors that military veterans are gaining access to. Mayor Young said that Wounded Warriors executive director Scott Maxwell has worked to see about more funding to include first responders in the scope of funding from the federal government.  Young also announced that some provincial and federal funding can likely be expected for Wounded Warriors programs in the coming year.


Red blood cell inventory across Canada is critically low for some blood types [Stats at Feb 16, 2018]

Saturday, February 24 ~ West Shore & Sooke. Get that blood pumping! Donors needed.

Three locations in the west shore now host regular blood donor clinics. Canadian Blood Services regularly sets up their mobile clinics at Church of the Advent in Colwood, at Royal Bay Secondary in the newest area of Colwood, and at the Sooke Legion.

On BC Family Day, Monday February 12, the Sooke clinic saw a strong turnout. Of the 99 pre-booked donors, 85 attended, plus two walk-ins — and 56 re-booked for a future clinic. The target was to collect 67 units of blood… 69 were collected, a 103% success.

Supply Levels

  • The need for blood and donors continues to be urgent. Inventory is at concerning levels after a difficult winter for collections. Winter interruptions include weather, flu, and the holiday season.
  • “As a result, we’re asking 35,000 donors to step up across Canada to ensure we continue to meet patient needs leading up to spring break,” says Ann Chabert, Canadian Blood Services Territory Manager for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
  • “As partners in our work for Canadian hospital patients, we are encouraging people to come in to donate blood at any of our clinics,” Chabert says. Visit www.blood.ca to find out about clinic times and to book appointments, or call 1-888-2-DONATE.
  • As of February 16, there was only a 2.8 day supply of the most common blood type, O+ (considered to be an emergency low level). Rarer blood types, including AB+ and AB-, had a 10+ day supply of red blood cell inventory (considered excess).

Upcoming Clinics

  • The next local clinic is on Monday March 19 at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave in Colwood (12 noon to 7 pm). As of February 20, the donor target for that day was 101 units (1 unit/donor); about 72 available spots for that Westshore clinic are still available.
  • Clinics after that date come up after Easter — on Mon April 9 at Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd 12:30-7:30pm (time changed from the previous 11:30am-6:30 pm), and on Mon April 23 at Royal Bay Secondary, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way (9am to 4pm).

The Royal Bay component

  • In spring 2016, a large delegation of Royal Bay students attended the clinic at Church of the Advent. “It was so successful that the school decided to host a blood drive on site at their school,” says Chabert.
  • In May 2017, Royal Bay hosted their first blood drive as part of their Graduation legacy. Grad student Jaimey Hamilton (a three-time cancer survivor and recipient of blood and stem cells) “inspired her peers and ultimately the entire school,” says Chabert.
  • The public is welcome to attend the Royal Bay clinic. To book a spot, call 1-888-2-DONATE or go to www.blood.ca . Belmont Secondary students might participate in that blood drive and shuttle students from their school in Langford over to Royal Bay.

> Article first published in the February 23, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News.
>> Tables: Red Blood Cell Inventory in Canada as of Feb 16, 2018 – volumes and level of need [stats by Canadian Blood Services]


Short track speed skater Kim Boutin will carry Canada’s flag at the Winter 2018 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony.

Saturday, February 24 ~ NATIONAL.  Canadian athletes have captured 29 medals at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Eleven of those are gold, with eight Silver, and 10 Bronze.

Canadian athletes have captured 29 medals at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Eleven of those are gold, with eight Silver, and 10 Bronze. Short track speed skater Kim Boutin — now a triple Olympic medalist — will carry the Canadian flag into Sunday’s Closing Ceremony at PyeongChang 2018.

Boutin has won three medals in her  Olympic debut, including bronze in the 500 and 1,500-metres and silver in the 1,000. The closing ceremony on Sunday Feb 25 will be broadcast on CBC at 3 am Pacific Time.

The ice dance duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir carried the flag in the opening ceremony on Feb 9. Now with five medals to their name, Virtue and Moir are the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history. They captured ice dance gold on Feb 20 in the free dance final.

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to slow down and drive carefully. [West Shore Voice News photo – 2017]

Friday, February 23 ~ A ‘weather event’ has been predicted for the South Vancouver Island area for Friday evening, February 23. Wet heavy snowfall began mid-afternoon.

“Flurries will come and go tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night,” says Rick Gill, manager, Mainroad South Island. Expect up to 5 cm of snowfall is expected across the area, with as much as 10 cm of snow on roads in certain areas especially higher elevations. The forecast indicates the weather front clearing by Sunday morning.

“This event may have negative impacts on driving conditions in some areas,” says Mainroad. Given that many drivers in this region are unfamiliar with winter driving conditions, all drivers are asked to slow down, drive carefully and use additional caution when driving near road maintenance crews.

Mainroad 24 Hour Emergency Hotline: 1-877-391-7310


Thursday, February 22 ~ VICTORIA. Today Premier John Horgan outlined how the BC government will move forward on their action to protect the BC coast. It will start with consultation around four bitumen spill safeguards while at the same time referring to the courts the outstanding issue around BC’s right to protect BC’s coast, Premier John Horgan announced today.

“We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” said Premier Horgan. “And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

“We’re proceeding with the four points that are not contentious. The fifth point we’re taking to legal counsel and will proceed in the days ahead,” Horgan announced to media this afternoon.

Consultations will begin soon on the “four remaining safeguards” as announced in January by Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman. Those are:

  • Spill response time
  • Geographic response plans
  • Compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land
  • Application of regulations to marine spills

Premier Horgan says his government will be retaining expert legal counsel to ready a reference to the courts, adding that it may take several weeks to bring the reference forward. This reference will seek to reinforce BC’s constitutional rights to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill.

“I am absolutely hopeful that we can get back to a place where British Columbians and Albertans can share our common heritage which is our coast and our mountains and our streams,” Horgan told media today. “There are commonalities between our two provinces. And I would think all of us would want to get back to a place where we can enjoy the absolute privilege of being Canadians, and making sure that we all benefit from the distinctiveness of our individual provinces. That’s my objective, that’s been my objective from the beginning.”

Horgan continued: “But I believe that the federal government and the government of Alberta do not understand the depth of feeling that the transport of diluted bitumen has on British Columbia. I’ve been quite clear about that. It’s not about Rachel Notley, it’s not about Justin Trudeau. It’s about the people of British Columbia and as the leader of the government I want to make sure I’m representing their interests.”

Horgan says the BC right to defend against the risks of a bitumen spill is a safeguard that has “generated disproportionate and unlawful reactions from the Alberta government, specifically their decision to ban the import of wines from British Columbia”.

“The actions by the Alberta government threaten an entire industry and the livelihoods of people who depend on it,” said Premier Horgan. “We have taken steps to protect our wine industry from the unwarranted trade action by the Government of Alberta.”

“It’s not about politics. It’s not about trade. It’s about British Columbians’ right to have their voices heard on this critical issue,” said Premier Horgan. “And it’s about BC’s right to defend itself against actions that may threaten our people, our province and our future.”

The premier said he intends for his government to continuing focussing on “things that matter to British Columbians”, itemizing from this week’s budget the focus on affordability, the housing crisis, and ensuring there are child care opportunities for families and a whole range of other issues. “That’s our preoccupation.”

“To have government of Alberta using these issues as tactics is not of any interest to me. I believe in the rule of law.
We’ve had one province and the federal government making suggestions that they know best, but we’re going to wait to hear from the courts,” Horgan said.


Wednesday evening, February 21 ~ West Shore & Sooke. Yes, it’s snowing out there.

About 5 to 10 cm of snowfall in total is what’s in the forecast. Looks like the wet heavy snowflake type — started mid-afternoon and will continue through the evening.

While road crews do get out there to do sanding and application of salt to the roads, driving with extra care (and slower) is a reasonable thing to do. Not everyone in this region is experienced with winter driving, and likely the roads will be slippery and/or visibility can be restricted when snow is falling.

The weather forecast is for temperatures to reach about 4 degrees Celcius on Thursday, so a lot of that snow will melt. Forecasts indicate more snow on Friday.


BC Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan share a happy pause during delivery of Budget 2018. [Screenshot]

Tuesday, February 20 ~ VICTORIA. Today February 20 in the BC Legislative Assembly, Finance Minister Carole James was met with jubilant support from her NDP colleagues as she delivered Budget 2018. Investing in people and a creative approach to the economy is what the BC NDP are riding on now.

Throughout the approximately one-hour delivery, both Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James (a former leader of the BC NDP) appeared fully pleased, with beaming smiles, at the socially progressive accomplishments that the budget represents.

“Seven months ago, we were sworn in as a new government. It was clear in the election, as it is now, that British Columbians want a better BC,” Minister James began.  “We live in a province rich in people, resources, natural beauty and opportunities. Yet those opportunities have become further and further out of reach for many,” she said.

“Families are working and can’t get ahead. Young people starting out can’t find affordable housing. And seniors can’t get the services they rely on. It’s time for a different approach. It’s time everyone in our province is part of our prosperity,” the Finance Minister said. She said that the budget is designed to “make life more affordable, improve the services you count on, and build a strong, sustainable economy that supports jobs in every corner of the province”.

Unlike budgets of the past, this new budget will look to injecting well-being into the society and economy on several levels, from which fresh new levels of prosperity can possibly evolve. This is in contrast to relying primarily on revenues from natural-resource industries and the speculative housing market.

The Opposition in a response from BC Liberal MLA Shirley Bond (Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour in the previous government), claims the NDP government will be spending more than generates in revenues and imposing tax increases on job creators to be “the biggest revenue generators”. Overall, the BC Liberal response sounded tired, hoping for a return of times past.

However, it is now-determined that the previous government under a BC Liberal majority bled the coffers of ICBC and increased BC Hydro rates on the backs of mostly those who could least afford it, and did not examine any ways to reduce or eliminate MSP fees until 2016 and only after pressure by the public and the NDP.

The NDP philosophy is generally to provide more supports and services to the broadest possible range of citizens. Even in business it is a known that ‘you need to spend money to make money’. When investments are astutely made in ways that will improve productivity of people and businesses and the well-being of communities, that in turn should pay off.

Actions to improve people’s health, ability to get to work (by supporting child care), improving affordability of housing and the flow of transportation for commuters, are socioeconomic infrastructure that can build a stronger future. doing nothing in those areas (or maintaining the previous status quo) was a recipe for continued economic hardship for many people in BC.

Waiting until there is an overflowing pot of funds is a pipe dream in any economic situation — from household and community, to business and in government. Aside from dolling out a few social program improvements toward the end of the 16-year BC Liberal run (which was based largely on increased property tax revenues from a booming real estate market) the working, low-income and many middle-income people of BC were slowly starved and suffocated of any real ways to remain financially stable let alone get ahead during the worst of the post-recessionary years. Not to mention an entire generation of children who – through education cutbacks during 2001-2016 — missed out on the best an education system can offer.  In response to this, came the shift in power to the ‘progressive vote’ of 2017 that we see represented in the agreed-upon union of 41 NDP and 3 Green seats in the present legislature.

The present government is looking to the innovative economies to carry BC’s economy forward. That includes digital tech and green/clean tech, and also supporting that with stronger education initiatives (more money for teachers and schools, as well as training funding in post-secondary).

The Official Opposition is correct in effectively saying this is not what was done in the past. Moving toward the future requires some new thought, creative initiatives, and the courage to serve the people first.

It does seem a bit of stretch that the promised 114,000 new housing units promised by the NDP in the 2017 election campaign might in fact be hard to achieve. To date, 1,700 units have been initiated.  Taking action against housing unaffordability is complex. “A piecemeal, reactive approach won’t work,” said Finance Minister Carole James in her speech today. She outlined, instead, a “comprehensive housing plan that commits to long-term solutions”.“It starts with taking action to stabilize the market and curb demand,” Minister James said.

“BC’s real estate market should not be used as a stock market. It should be used to provide safe and secure homes for families, renters, students and seniors,” James stated in her Budget 2018. Cracking down on speculators is a start, which is admirable but at least in the short term will hurt those with entry-level homes (seller or buyer) the most.

When it comes to foreign and domestic speculators, a new annual speculation tax will apply to property owners who don’t pay income tax in BC, including those who leave units vacant. “This is penalize people parking their capital in our housing market simply to speculate, driving up prices and removing rental stock.” The additional property transfer tax rate (foreign buyers tax) will increase to 20%. Currently applied only in Metro Vancouver, the tax is now extended to include the Capital Region, Nanaimo, Fraser Valley and Central Okanagan Regional Districts.

Homes valued over $3 million will be taxed more, with revenues there being targeted toward school funding.On the housing supply side “we are going to build the homes people need”. These homes will be a mix of housing for students, people with disabilities, seniors and families, and will range from supported social housing to market rental housing.

“We will also make significant investments to preserve and protect our existing social housing for the people already living in them. Our commitments will total more than $7 billion over the next 10 years. This will be the largest investment in housing in the history of our province, building almost 34,000 units across our province, including:• Units for mixed-income social housing,• New beds for students at colleges and universities, and• Units dedicated for people who are homeless.We know housing affordability can hit renters the hardest and many of our most vulnerable citizens are at risk. The 2018 budget boosts two rental assistance programs: Our Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter-Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER).

The 114,000 affordable housing units “can only be done by building partnerships”, which the government aims to address and achieve through their new ‘HousingHub’ at BC Housing. The idea is to find, use or redevelop available land in communities hardest hit by the housing crisis. The idea is to partner with non-profits and faith-based organizations that have land.

Meanwhile, online accommodation providers will have to pay PST, municipal and regional district taxes, being bundled as a hotel room tax. Local governments will be able to use their hotel room tax revenue to build housing in their communities; this will make a difference in tourism-based communities where housing is seen in shortage.

James outlined that the “scale and complexity” of remedies for housing affordability challenges will not happen overnight. The aim is to “join with mayors, businesses and community leaders to speed up approvals and find ways to build more housing, faster”. The City of Langford’s approach to speedier development may well have been a model for this, as Premier Horgan has seen this up close in his riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca.

The present MSP system is easily seen to be skewed toward levying proportionally more revenue from low and middle income families. All MSP premiums will be eliminated effective January 1, 2020 (already being cut to 50% as of January 1, 2018). That will save families up to $1,800/year and individuals up to $900/year. Carole James announced an Employer Health Tax to replace MSP revenue. This will impact businesses with payrolls above $500,000 (a lower rate for businesses with payrolls $500,000 to $1.5 million, and a full rate for businesses with payroll over $1.5 million). Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland have similar taxes. Ontario’s rate is 1.95% while the others are higher. The Opposition hit hard on that one, saying businesses are being asked to take on the burden of health care costs. The Finance Minister introduced her section on health care by saying “without your health, not much else matters”.

Read the full BC Budget 2018 speech.


Sunday, February 18 ~ WEST SHORE. Tight housing market increases demand for property management specialty services  | by Mary P Brooke =========

As the rental crunch in Greater Victoria continues at a fever pitch, there is even more of a demand for well-maintained and well-managed rental properties that are priced right for both renter and landlord.

Taking this long-term approach to generating quality on the supply side, property management specialist George Holmes focuses on building a stock of rental opportunities within single family homes and apartment buildings.

Holmes deals directly with property owners to determine the best fit for their property as part of the booming rental market, particularly in the west shore and Sooke.

For strata complexes, Holmes under Sutton manages the financial operation and maintenance for the owners under the Strata Property Act.

Working out of the Sutton Advantage Property Management office in Saanich for the last seven years, in total Holmes has over 30 years property management experience including in the non-profit housing market. He has seen the west shore market mature in ways that can benefit by his experience in meeting the needs of his clients in balance with market conditions. Insightful and resourceful, Holmes takes pride in his work.

This article first published in the February 16, 2018 print/PDF issue of West Shore Voice News

About 900 BC Hydro customers are without power west of Sooke this morning, February 18.

Sunday, February 18 ~ Vancouver Island. Strong winds and snowfall throughout the night have caused extensive damage and multiple outages to customers in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro says their crews are working in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.

There were strong winds overnight, continuing into this morning, along with moderate snowfall which is already melting mid-morning.

As of 10 am this Sunday morning, about 4,000 BC Hydro customers on South Vancouver Island are without power. There are 10 listed outages, showing almost 2,700 customers without power west of Admirals Road in an area that clusters Colwood, Esquimalt, Langford, Saanich and View Royal.

West of Sooke up to Port Renfrew, about 900 customers are without power (which is a significant number in a sparsely populated area).

There are clusters of outages on the Gulf Islands, as well as in North Saanich. A handful of customers are without power in Saanich.

Over 8,000 customers are without power on North Vancouver Island, with over 9,700 without power in the Lower Mainland/Sunshine Coast.

Belmont Residences & Belmont Market will be developed on 24 acres at Jacklin Road and Jenkins Ave. [West Shore Voice News photo – Feb 2018]

Saturday, February 17 ~ LANGFORD. Belmont Residences, a new 24-acre, 440-unit multi-phase development at Jenkins Avenue and Division Avenue in Langford, will officially break ground on Thursday, March 1.

Members of the Ledcor Property Development team will be joined by representatives from the City of Langford for the ground-breaking ceremony.

Belmont is a new 24-acre community being created on southern Vancouver Island’s west shore. Belmont Residences will comprise seven residential market and rental buildings targeting first-time home buyers, working professionals, and downsizers. The development is enhanced by 220,000 sq ft of commercial amenities (being developed by Crombie REIT), including a landmark Thrifty Foods grocery store spanning 52,700 sq ft.

Adjacent to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and numerous parks, lakes, and outdoor spaces, Belmont Residences is set to become a vibrant centre for the City of Langford.

Promoting themselves as the new heart of the west shore, Belmont Residences will be marketed as the ‘it’ place for those seeking a healthy, urban-meets-suburban living.

The entire site is across the street from the longstanding Westshore Town Centre, and on the land where the former Belmont Secondary School used to be before the land was sold by SD62. The new ‘Belmont 2.0’ high school opened at its new location on Langford Lake Road in Westhills in 2015.

Jacklin Road traffic is now being detoured until mid-summer through the Belmont housing and commercial construction site, along the new Division Avenue that has access points on both Jacklin Road and Jenkins Avenue.


Thursday, February 15 ~ JUAN de FUCA.  Siren testing has been scheduled for earthquake and tsunami early warning systems at Port Renfrew, Pacheedaht First Nation and Jordan River Regional Park between Thursday, February 15 and Sunday, February 18, 2018. People in the area can expect to hear loud intermittent warning sirens while testing is underway.

The systems are in the process of being set up and are not operational at this time. Testing is scheduled as follows:

  • Jordan River Regional Park: Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Testing of the warning system will take place between 11am and 1pm.
  • Port Renfrew and Pacheedaht First Nation: Thursday, February 15 – Saturday, February 17, 2018. The siren will sound intermittently between 9am and 5pm as system settings are adjusted, followed by a full test on Sunday, February 18 at 11:30am.

These tests are in advance of both systems becoming operational in 2018.


Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity [West Shore Voice News photo, 2017]

Thursday, February 15 ~ VICTORIA. Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean will serve as BC’s first Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, Premier John Horgan announced today February 15.

“Mitzi Dean has devoted her career to justice, fairness and support for the most vulnerable,” said Premier Horgan in a news release today.

“Dean is uniquely qualified to promote gender equity and the advancement of women in her new role as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity,” Premier Horgan said.

Dean is a first-time MLA. She will serve in this new role of Parliamentary Secretary under the direction of Minister of Finance Carole James. Responsibilities will include:
* ensuring gender equity is reflected in government budgets, policies and programs;
* co-ordinating cross-government action on gender issues, including gender violence, gender equality and women’s economic empowerment;
* tracking progress on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women;
* liaising with feminist and women’s organizations; and
* promoting gender equity and leadership at senior levels in the public and private sector.

Mitzi Dean has a social work background from Britain, her home country. She worked for about 10 years at the Pacific Centre Family Services Association (PCFSA) in Colwood, most recently as their executive director before running for an NDP seat in 2017. Ahead of the 2017 election she relocated her home with her family, to rural Metchosin. PCFSA serves the west shore including Langford which helps fund various counselling and outreach programs at PCFSA, as well as providing satellite services in Sooke.

Scott Stinson, incoming SD62 Superintendent (starting Aug 2018)

Thursday, February 15 ~ LANGFORD.  Today the SD62 Board of Education has announced their selection Scott Stinson as their new Superintendent of Schools and Chief Executive Officer of School District 62, effective August 1, 2018.  Stinson will replace Jim Cambridge who has been Superintendent since 2009. Cambridge will wrap up his 36-year education career in August 2018.

“We’re really excited to welcome Scott back to our school district,” says SD62 Board Chair Ravi Parmar. “The Board of Education collaborated extensively with different groups to find the best fit for our rapidly growing and successful school district. We’re confident Scott will be a great leader as we continue to build on the successes of both the students and the district.”

SD62 says it conducted a nation-wide search, mostly through an internal education system advertising network.

Jim Cambridge, SD62 Superintendent [West Shore Voice News photo 2017]

For more than 30 years, Stinson has worked in education throughout the Victoria area, including SD62. Previously, he was Principal at David Cameron Elementary and also SD62’s District Principal of Student Support Services before moving to his current role as Assistant Superintendent with Saanich School District 63.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to accept this position and I’m really happy to return to SD62,” says Stinson. “I can’t wait to work with the Board of Education, staff, Aboriginal and partner groups as well as stakeholders to continue offering students rich learning opportunities in such an innovative school district.”

Back in October 2017, current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge told West Shore Voice News that modernization of the school system as well as acquiring land and buildings will need to be the focus of SD62 for the next decade or so.

SD62 delivers public education in the fast-growing urbanized area of south Vancouver Island encompassing Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Sooke, as well as the rural areas of Metchosin and Juan de Fuca.

Cambridge says that teaching now recognizes that students learn in a variety of ways, and that teaching is now about facilitating, not the old lecture-style.


BC Lt Gov Judith Guichon, February 13, 2018 after the Throne Speech

Tuesday, February 13. The BC Throne Speech this afternoon February 13 delivered in the BC Legislature laid out a preview of what can be expected in BC Budget 2018. Making life more affordable for British Columbians was the expected theme, seen strongly in directions for housing and child care.

“British Columbians have made their priorities clear. After years of rising living costs and stagnant wages, they expect government to make life more affordable,” said Lt Gov Judith Guichon in her introduction. “Too many British Columbians are working paycheque to paycheque. Many cannot pay the bills without going further into debt,” she said.

The Throne Speech is of course composed by the Premier and government of the day. The NDP directions for a social framework and economy that serves the broadest possible range of citizens was evident in the many initiatives that were introduced. Details will come in the Budget on February 20.

Today is was announced that more funds will be put toward training for early childhood education as a way toward increasing the number of licenced child care spaces. As Premier John Horgan explained afterward, this ultimately helps more women, as mothers, to get back into the work force to help boost family income and further their careers.

A creative approach to providing more lower-cost rental accommodation in larger cities is to build more accommodation for students on post-secondary campuses. This will free up a range of accommodations in housing in the general community for other low-income renters.

Further action on the effort to reduce the high cost of housing takes aim at speculation: “Government’s first step must be to address demand and stabilize BC’s out-of-control real estate and rental market. Safe, decent housing is a right that is under threat by speculators, domestic and foreign, who seek windfall profits at the expense of people who work, live and pay taxes in BC. We see the results of speculation in all parts of our province—distorted markets, sky-high prices and empty homes. Too many British Columbians are paying the price,” said Guichon in the Throne Speech.

Horgan spoke strongly in support of the forestry industry, saying that forestry is a 21st-century industry that can benefit from the application of advances in technology. There was absolutely no mention of LNG in the budget, which later BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said was “refreshing” as LNG is “not profitable” in a world market that is glutted with natural gas (mentioning that the USA and Russia have ample supply of their own).

BC Premier John Horgan

All references in today’s speech to fast-growing communities and transportation challenges were to the Lower Mainland, but oddly (as Langford-Juan de Fuca is the Premier’s own home riding) there was no mention about the west shore of Vancouver Island that is booming and in need of more housing, schools and transportation resolutions.

The BC NDP government says it is working toward a sustainable, diverse economy.  “Your government’s vision for a fair and inclusive society will be built from the foundation of a healthy, growing economy, and from a clear understanding that we must create wealth in order to share it,” it was stated in the Throne Speech.

To media afterward, Premier Horgan reiterated his position about consulting with the people of BC as well as industry, communities and First Nations about the environmental protections that are needed to ensure protection of the environment in BC that is so entwined with the economy of this coastal province.

Horgan said he looks forward to “cooperative not coercive” actions between provinces. “All British Columbians want to see cooperative not coercive federalism. BC will continue to be cooperative equal partners in Canada,” said Horgan this afternoon.

Monday, February 12 ~ LANGFORD. International rugby is coming to Langford this week. There will be some on-field training in Langford this week ahead of the Canada vs Brazil men’s rugby game on Saturday February 17 at Westhills Stadium in Langford. Kick off at 6:30 pm. The game will be televised on TSN.

Stadium tickets for the February 17 game can be purchased online at events.rugbycanada.ca

Meanwhile, toward the end of February there will be an official opening celebration of the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre. Construction of the facility on Glen Lake Road in Langford was completed in recent months and weeks.

Attending the opening will be members of Rugby Canada’s National Men’s Fifteens, Men’s Sevens, and Women’s Sevens Teams.


Monday, February 12 ~ BC. Today February 12 is BC Family Day, making for a 3-day long weekend. Pretty much everyone appreciates a day off in cold dreary February, mid-winter!

“BC Family Day is a day for people to spend time with their loved ones and join in community celebrations. To make sure Family Day events are accessible to everyone, the BC government has partnered with the BC Recreation and Parks Association to fund free family-friendly activities and events in communities around the province,” it was announced in a statement from Premier John Horgan this weekend.

Many rec centres in BC are offering special deals and admissions. Admission is free all day at SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke today, within Horgan’s home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca.

“It’s part of our commitment to make life better and more affordable for you and your family. Take some time today to have fun in your community, and have a happy BC Family Day!”

Starting next year, British Columbia’s Family Day will be moved to the third Monday in February “so families across the country can celebrate together”, it was announced by BC Premier John Horgan ahead of this Family Day long weekend.
Family Day was established in British Columbia in 2013 (several years after most provinces already had a Family Day in February) following a consultation process that had recommended the holiday be on either the second or third Monday of February. The government of the day decided on the second Monday, even though it was inconsistent with other Canadian provinces and the United States.

At the time, the main reason for choosing the second Monday of February was given as input from the winter sport industry, particularly the ski industry which appreciated packing in business from BC residents and locals, leaving room for Family Day visitors the following weekend from many other parts of Canada where Family Day is on the third Monday of February.

In announcing the change for 2019, Premier Horgan said Family Day will now be better aligned for businesses and families. “Moving Family Day is the right thing to do for businesses small and large, and is better for families who may be spread out across the country,” said Premier Horgan. “This gives families an opportunity to schedule and spend more time with loved ones from other provinces.”

“The misalignment of Family Day causes inconvenience, increased costs, and lost opportunity for businesses of all sizes and in various industries,” said Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman. “The economic benefit from this change will greatly assist our members, and especially small- and medium-sized businesses, across the province.”


Construction of affordable housing by Knox Vision Society, at Church Rd & Wadams Way in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News photo – Jan 2018]

Friday, February 9 ~ WEST SHORE.   The construction of two affordable housing projects that are already well underway was the packaged-up subject of a BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing news release this week.

The commonality is that both projects are in the fast-growing west shore (more specifically in Premier John Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca home riding) where affordable rentals are sorely needed, and that the BC government has provided funding support to both.

This is along with the now oft-repeated message that the Province is developing “a comprehensive provincial housing strategy to make housing more affordable for British Columbians”. And, since taking office in July 2017 saying that the BC government “has set a target to build, in partnership, 114,000 new units of affordable housing throughout BC”.

Both projects are located on busy main roads near bus transit routes and within walking distance to retail and other services.

The Oak Park redevelopment project in Langford at 616 Goldstream Avenue received a provincial injection of $7.5 million toward the two-phase construction of 73 rental units (61 apartments and 12 townhomes) to be operated by Pacifica Housing. The expected monthly rent levels are: Studio $800; 1 bdrm $1,020; 2 bdrm $1,200; 3 bdrm $1,550; 4 bdrm $1,700.

The project in Sooke at 2110 and 2120 Church Road (corner of Wadams Way) has received $5.35 million in BC funding. This long-planned project was first designed by M’akola Housing in 2014 for seniors but the Knox Vision Society in 2016 opened up their parameters, intending to appeal to all low-income age groups and broaden their access to funding. They are approaching CRD and SD62 among others, for additional funding. The District of Sooke has been supportive throughout the Knox Church’s process with this project. The expected monthly rent levels are: 1 bdrm $875; 2 bdrm $1,100; 3 bdrm $1,300.


BC Health Minister Adrian Dix

Friday, February 9 ~ BC.  $105-million investment to make prescription medications more affordable for families starting 2019

The British Columbia government is eliminating PharmaCare deductibles for working families with the lowest incomes in the province, helping to make sure they get the prescription medicines they need but currently are struggling to afford, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced today. “It helps low income people and seniors,” said Dix.

“No parent should have to make the difficult decision between their family’s health and putting food on the table,” said Dix. “The investment we’re announcing today will make life more affordable for British Columbians, while making sure they get the care they need.”

“I am unbelievably enthusiastic. I think this is fantastic news,” said BC Health Minister Dix in a news teleconference today. “There has been remarkable work by the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Dix said the new changes are “consistent with our agreement with the Green Party”, saying the Green MLA Sonia Furstenau “contributed enormously to this project”.

“The costs of prescription drugs prevents too many British Columbians from addressing treatable conditions, saddling them and our healthcare system with the effects of untreated illnesses down the road,” said Furstenau in a release to media.

“Our caucus is very pleased that the government is making this investment in the health of British Columbians. Especially with so many communities facing an affordability crisis, this will go a long way to improving the lives of the people of BC,” said Furstenau.

The $105 million being invested in Fair PharmaCare over three years will eliminate or reduce the deductibles for 240,000 B.C. families. All families with household net incomes under $45,000 will benefit. Dix said the biggest impact will be felt by families with net annual incomes between $15,000 and $30,000. They will have no deductible, starting Jan. 1, 2019.

“This is a crucial step forward in improving the health and lives of thousands of British Columbians,” said Dix. “We know that in families earning under $30,000 in net income, needed prescriptions go unfilled too often because PharmaCare deductibles are too high. The step we’re taking today is a significant one, as deductibles have not been changed in 15 years.”

These will be the first changes to deductibles since 2003. Prior to these changes, Fair PharmaCare families faced relatively large jumps in their deductibles, as incomes increased past certain thresholds. Deductibles went from $0 to $300 when a family’s income reached $15,000 and jumped another $300, from $600 to $900, when a family’s net income reached $30,000.

BC Green MLA Sonia Furstenau

Ministry of Health analysis indicates that these jumps are often accompanied by decreases in drug spending, suggesting that families are not filling prescriptions due to affordability. Families earning under $45,000 are also less likely to fill prescriptions, or make trade-offs with other essentials, like groceries, heat and housing.

Co-payments will also be eliminated for families with a family member aged 79 years and older with net incomes below $13,750, and lowered for all families with net incomes under $45,000.

“Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them,” said Dr. Michael Law, Canada research chair in access to medicines at the University of British Columbia. “Research shows that many people in this province have not filled or skipped prescriptions because of the cost, and these changes being announced will improve health outcomes by significantly increasing access to important and effective medicines.”


Minister of Democratic Institutions, Katrina Gould

Friday February 9 ~ OTTAWA. Something new for the House of Commons… a new baby.

Following the birth of her child, the Honourable Karina Gould will take a leave of absence from her role as Minister of Democratic Institutions to go on parental leave, it was announced today by the Prime Minister’s office.

During her absence, the Honourable Scott Brison will serve as acting Minister of Democratic Institutions, in addition to his role as President of the Treasury Board. Andy Fillmore will continue to serve as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

“Our country is stronger when we empower decision-makers who reflect the diversity of Canada,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement. “Part of encouraging the next generation of young women to run for office is demonstrating that our institutions are modern, family-friendly, and that the experiences they bring to the table will contribute to their success.”

Trudeau said that Minister Gould “makes Canadian history” as the first federal cabinet member to give birth while in office, saying Ms Gould and her family will be “welcomed back to Ottawa when the time is right for them.”


Thursday, February 8 ~ BC.  British Columbia’s lowest-paid workers will earn a $15-an-hour minimum wage by June 2021, Premier John Horgan announced today, endorsing the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission.

“Regular, predictable increases to our minimum wage are one important way we can make life more affordable for people,” said Premier Horgan.

“For too long, the lowest-paid workers in our province have been left to fall behind, with their wages frozen for a decade at a time. That’s not fair and it’s not right. Like all British Columbians, our lowest-paid workers deserve a fair shake and a fair wage.”

The plan to reach $15 an hour provides for an immediate increase of $1.30 an hour on June 1, 2018, to a new minimum wage of $12.65 an hour. Additional increases will take place on June 1 of each year for three more years. By June 2021, B.C.’s minimum wage will rise to at least $15.20 an hour. The four increases between 2018 and 2021 represent a 34% increase over four years.

The next wage increase, on June 1, 2018, will benefit 94,000 minimum-wage earners, while increasing the minimum wage to over $15 an hour on June 1, 2021, will benefit 400,000 workers throughout the province. The commission’s scaled approach will allow businesses and employers to plan for predictable and stable increases to wages over time.
“Freezing the minimum wage for 10 years hurt people, and then increasing it in a sporadic and unplanned way hurt businesses. We are taking a balanced approach that will work better for everyone, by bringing in measured and predictable increases over time,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “I’m thankful for the incredible work done by the members of the Fair Wages Commission, who worked together to come up with a fair path forward.”

The Fair Wages Commission was established in October 2017 as an arm’s-length government body to help guide public engagement on how B.C. should achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and also the timeline for implementation. In a report delivered to government in January 2018, following public consultations and receipt of research and submissions, the commission recommended four minimum wage increases over four years.

The Fair Wages Commission recommended the following schedule of increases:

  • * June 1, 2018: $12.65 an hour ($1.30 increase)
  • * June 1, 2019: $13.85 ($1.20 increase)
  • * June 1, 2020: $14.60 ($0.75 increase)
  • * June 1, 2021: $15.20 ($0.60 increase)

Depending on economic conditions, the commission recommended that government consider of an additional hourly increase of up to $.20, to $15.40 an hour in 2021. The Fair Wages Commission report with recommendations can be found here: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/237/2018/02/Report-1_BC-Fair-Wages-Commission_Jan-2018.pdf

The minimum wage was initiated in BC in 1918. The current minimum wage is $11.35 an hour, and applies to 4.8% of employees in BC. Over 20% of all workers in BC earn less than $15 an hour.

Of workers earning less than $15 an hour, 52% are over age 25, more than three-quarters are not students, 61% are in coupled families, and over 51% have gone to college/university. 46% of minimum-wage earners work for small firms (under 100 staff), while 54% work for large employers.

BC has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, the strongest job growth and a rising labour force participation rate. Total employment rose by 3.6% in 2017, twice the national pace. Private sector hiring is particularly strong, growing 4.4% last year. Yet, BC is a low-wage province and average wages are below the national average.

BC Premier John Horgan

Wednesday, February 7 ~ VICTORIA. BC & ALBERTA – consultation vs goading.

In response to a stream of media questions on the topic, Premier John Horgan used up pretty much all of his 15-minute news conference from the BC Legislature today February 7 battling off questions about essentially what he is treating as pesky interference by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in her impassioned guerrilla-style defense of the Alberta oil industry.

Horgan reminded the media that he intends to continue focusing on the broad needs of British Columbians, particularly around ways to integrate affordability into the socioeconomics of this province.

Horgan said that Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has been in discussions with the BC wine industry growers in the Okanagan and that top officials in government are actively “exchanging notes and phone calls” to keep channels open. But that the Premier himself will “not be distracted”.

“I would hope we’ve seen the end of the back and forth. I deliberately wasn’t available to you (media) yesterday because it’s not in anyone’s interest to having dueling premiers,” said John Horgan. He noted that BC and Alberta share a political flag “but that’s secondary to my obligations to the people of BC”, Horgan said, adding: “What Alberta does is entirely up to them.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

Horgan reiterated that BC will be engaging with stakeholders, First Nations, and the people of BC as part of establishing some environmental protections in the case of an oil spill. BC is still in federal court about the need to ensure environmental protections before the TransMountain pipeline proceeds.

In today’s media conference, Horgan said he didn’t appreciate that one jurisdiction would goad another to take action against a third jurisdiction. And defending BC getting organized to consult British Columbians: “Consulting is not provocative,” he said, adding that it is his “right to consult with British Columbians about putting in place protections for environment and economy”

“I will defend our wine industry. I’m here for BC, not Alberta,” said the Premier.


Tuesday, February 6 ~ VICTORIA. BC Green Party Leader had a supportive response to the BC NDP Government’s release of changes to ICBC policy.

“I am encouraged that the government is putting British Columbians’ health outcomes at the centre of these policy changes,” said Weaver. ” These changes mean that a larger share of our public insurance funds will go directly towards helping British Columbians who suffer accidents recover from their injuries.”

“A successful, affordable public insurance system requires government to act in the best interests of the people who participate in it. The B.C. Liberals betrayed the trust of British Columbians when they pillaged ICBC’s capital reserves, and ignored and concealed the evidence-based recommendations put forth by their own consultants. The mess left behind by the Liberals’ reckless fiscal mismanagement necessitates major changes, and I’m glad that the current government is taking this seriously.

“I look forward to seeing the proposed changes to the rate structures, but am encouraged that the Attorney General has signaled a move towards a fairer model that rewards good drivers while ensuring bad drivers pay their fair share based on risk.”

Tuesday, February 6 ~ VICTORIA. Today the BC NDP Government announced several changes to tackle both the financial challenges and service delivery model of the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC).

“Together, these changes will reduce the amount ICBC spends on legal fees and expenses, which have grown to consume 24% of ICBC’s budget,” said Attorney General David Eby in a media announcement today.

“The savings from this change, when coupled with other planned initiatives, will restore ICBC to financial sustainability and finance the planned accident benefit improvements.”

The changes come in the wake of multiple revelations about decisions and inaction by the previous government, leading to ICBC projecting a 2017-2018 net loss of $1.3 billion. BC drivers could face premium increases averaging $400 or more, if no action is taken, it was stated in a news release.

Disputes over certain motor vehicle injury claims, including the classification of an injury, will be adjudicated by BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT), an independent body that already adjudicates strata and small claims disputes in the province.

“For too long, difficult decisions have been put off and growing financial problems at ICBC hidden from the public. The changes we’re initiating today will reduce ICBC’s claims costs by more than $1 billion every year, helping make it sustainable for decades to come,” Eby said.

Taking effect April 1, 2019, the changes include:

  • A new limit of $5,500 on pain and suffering for minor injury claims. The cost of those claims has increased 265% since 2000. British Columbia is the last province in Canada to take this kind of action.
  • The first major improvements in accident benefits in 25 years, dramatically increasing the care available for anyone injured in a crash, regardless of fault. The overall medical care and recovery cost allowance will be doubled to $300,000. This change will be made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, so it will effectively be in place to protect injured drivers and passengers immediately. See more on this benefit below.
  • An independent dispute resolution process for certain motor vehicle injury claims.

“British Columbians can no longer afford to keep paying more and more for their auto insurance every year, and this is the decisive and immediate action which is needed to relieve the pressure on ICBC’s rates,” said Joy MacPhail, chair, ICBC board of directors. “These changes make the injured customer our top priority, by redirecting payments away from legal costs into significantly enhancing the care and treatments for anyone who is injured in a crash.”

Accident benefit details:

  • Doubling the lifetime allowance for medical care and recovery costs for those catastrophically injured in a car accident from $150,000 to $300,000. Legislation will be introduced with the intention of making this benefit retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, in order to start immediately helping seriously injured British Columbians.
  • Covering a greater variety of treatment services.
  • Significantly increasing the amount covered for treatments, so customers don’t have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • More than doubling wage loss payments to $740 per week, almost doubling home support benefits to $280 per week, tripling funeral cost coverage to $7,500, and increasing death benefits to $30,000.

In 2016, injury claims totalled $2.7 billion, an increase of 80% in seven years. The average claim paid out for minor injuries rose from $8,200 in the year 2000 to $30,038 in 2016 (increase of 265%). At the same time, the average pain and suffering awards paid out for minor injuries increased from $5,004 in 2000 to more than $16,499 in 2016.

Vehicle damage claims costs have increased 30% in just two years, to a total of $1.5 billion in 2016 alone.

Use of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) for minor injury dispute resolution means claimants who don’t use a lawyer will get to keep their entire settlement, rather than paying a portion of it toward lawyer’s fees.

The use of the CRT for these disputes will also reduce ICBC’s legal costs, which account for 24% of the corporation’s total annual costs. These costs are greater than the cost of running ICBC, the government revealed today.


Monday, February 5 ~ VICTORIA, BC. The following is the BC government’s new release about Cannabis retail, driving laws amongst new firm-on-safety policy decisions

As British Columbia works towards the federal timeline for legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 2018, the Province continues to set policy direction to meet the needs and expectations of British Columbians.

“As a result of months of engagement, additional research and analysis, we continue to build the Province’s regulatory framework and have set policy direction on other key aspects of how non-medical cannabis will be regulated in B.C.,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “These decisions include safeguards for the retail sales of non-medical cannabis and are driven by our priorities of protecting youth, promoting health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping our roads safe.”

The following decisions will inform the development of legislation in preparation for federal legalization of non-medical cannabis in July.

Retail framework
As was announced in December 2017, government is releasing details on the Province’s proposed retail framework. British Columbians of legal age will be able to purchase non-medical cannabis through privately run retail stores or government-operated retail stores and government online sales. B.C.’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will operate a new standalone network of public retail stores and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) will be responsible for licensing private stores and monitoring the retail sector.

The operating rules governing public and private retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor. However, to promote responsible use, licensed retailers will not be able to sell cannabis in the same stores as liquor or tobacco. In urban areas, licensed retailers will only be allowed to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories, and will be prohibited from selling other products, such as food, gas, clothing and lottery.

The B.C. government recognizes that retail access for people in rural areas will require a different approach than those used in urban communities and will establish exceptions for rural non-medical cannabis retail stores, similar to those of rural liquor stores. The criteria for determining these rural areas are currently under development.

This spring, the Province will launch an early registration process for individuals and businesses who are interested in applying for a cannabis retail licence. Although B.C. will not cap the number of retail licences available, licences will not be issued without the support of local governments, which will have the authority to make local decisions, based on the needs of their communities.

Additional details on the retail framework, including frequently asked questions for potential applicants, are available at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Cannabis_Private_Retail_Licensing_Guide.pdf 

Personal public possession limits
Adults aged 19 years and older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of non-medical cannabis in a public place, which aligns with the federal government’s proposed possession limit for adults.

Those under the legal age of 19 years will be prohibited from possessing any amount of non-medical cannabis. Additionally, cannabis transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants.

Places of use
B.C. will generally allow adults to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping are permitted. However, to minimize child and youth exposure, smoking and vaping of non-medical cannabis will be banned in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks and playgrounds. Use of cannabis in any form will also be banned for all occupants in vehicles.

Local governments will be able to set additional restrictions, as they do now for tobacco use. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit non-medical cannabis smoking and vaping at tenanted and strata properties.

Personal cultivation
B.C. will align with the proposed federal legislation and allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, but the plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property. Home cultivation of non-medical cannabis will be banned in dwellings used as day cares. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able restrict or prohibit home cultivation.

Drug-impaired driving
Drug-impaired driving will continue to be illegal and B.C. will increase training for law enforcement in this area. B.C. will also toughen provincial regulations to give police more tools to remove drug-impaired drivers from the road and deter drug-affected driving, including:
* B.C. will create a new 90-day administrative driving prohibition (ADP) for drug-affected driving; and
* The current zero-tolerance restrictions for the presence of alcohol for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) will be expanded to include zero tolerance for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

“National legalization of non-medical cannabis represents an historic shift in public policy. This provincial regulatory framework provides a sound foundation to support the provincial goals that prioritize public health and safety,” Farnworth said. “That said, July 2018 is only the beginning of our journey, and these changes will not happen overnight. We fully anticipate all levels of government will need to continue to assess and refine cannabis policy and regulation in the months and years to come.”

In December 2017, the Province announced that British Columbia’s minimum age to possess, purchase and consume non-medical cannabis will be 19 years old, and that the LDB will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C.

Government plans to introduce legislation in the spring legislative session to affect these policy decisions. It will also launch a public education campaign to ensure broad public awareness of the provincial rules before they come into force. For more detailed information, please visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/cannabis

Learn More:
The draft federal Cannabis Act (Bill C-45): http://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=8886269
B.C.’s cannabis public engagement: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/


Sunday, February 4 ~ WEST SHORE.
Real estate stats show burgeoning sales on west shore
by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News

Langford and Sooke together saw 62.3% of the Greater Victoria area’s house sale transactions volume in January 2018. In Langford the raw average sale price was about the same as Colwood, but Sooke prices were a full $200,000 lower.

The average sale price of a single family home in Langford last month was $712,247 compared to Sooke at $511,437. The overall sale price of homes across Greater Victoria was $925,715.

Note, these numbers are determined using the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB)’s own sales figures. They do vary from VREB’s HPI numbers, which are data-adjusted based on a set of criteria considered impactful on the value of a home (e.g. proximity to transportation, schools and services).

The numbers:
WEST SHORE: Single Family Homes Jan 2018
(averages of actual sale prices)
> Colwood $721,774 (8 sales / 8.6% of GV sales)
> Langford $712,247 (32 sales / 34.4% of GV sales)
> Sooke $511,437 (26 sales / 27.9% of GV sales)
> Greater Victoria (GV) $925,715 (93 sales)

The inventory of properties for sale in Greater Victoria has been low in 2016-2017 — 1,491 active listings at Jan 31, 2018 virtually the same as a year earlier (1,493 at Dec 31, 2016).

The number and range of properties for sale in 2013-2015 was higher, but dwindled as recessionary recovery saw homeowners selling properties (and downsizing) as a way to liberate cash and take advantage of increasing house prices. In Dec 2013 there were 4,772 properties for sale, down to 3,489 in Dec 2014, and sagging further to 2,517 in Dec 2015.


BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson

Sunday, February 4 ~ VICTORIA. Andrew Wilkinson has been chosen by the BC Liberal Party membership as their new leader.

The BC Liberal Party has operated with an interim leader (Rich Coleman) since former Premier Christy Clark resigned August 4 last year following the power shift to a progressive minority government a try under the NDP’s John Horgan.

A slate of six BC Liberal candidates vyed for their party’s top job, with the membership on February 3 choosing the relatively new Vancouver-based MLA Andrew Wilkinson (first elected in 2013 and served as the minister for Advanced Education and also Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services).

It is interesting that the more celebrity-style candidates who made a vibrant mark with outgoing moves during the Clark era — Mike de Jong and Todd Stone — came in fourth and fifth respectively.

Wilkinson grew up in Kamloops, and earned his higher education as a medical doctor at the University of Alberta, followed by law degrees at Oxford and Dalhousie.

Prompt congratulations were issued by Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, adding: “One of our caucus’ key priorities in choosing a confidence and supply agreement over a coalition government was to ensure we could work with both parties to advance our shared priorities in the legislature.”

On behalf of the BC NDP, Ravi Kahlon, MLA (Delta North) issued congratulations to new BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.  In a late-evening news release, the NDP said: “Right now, the stakes couldn’t be higher for British Columbians. People are counting on (the NDP) to make life more affordable, protect the services they count on and keep investing in a sustainable economy,” said Kahlon. “Our government has made great strides towards these goals, but major challenges—like the dumpster fire at ICBC — still remain”.


Sunday, February 4 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. There was a small earthquake at 10:57 pm on south Vancouver Island last night, Saturday February 3. First called a 2.7 quake by Natural Resources Canada Geological Survey of Canada, then upgraded to 2.8 Magnitude, there were no reports of damage, and none would be expected. The quake occurred at 19 km east of Sidney where it was lightly felt, as well as being felt throughout the Saanich Peninsula, Victoria, and Sooke.


Dave Barrett, BC Premier (1972-1975)

Saturday, February 3 ~ VICTORIA.  “Today, BC has lost a giant, former premier Dave Barrett,” said Premier BC John Horgan in a statement released late Friday afternoon, February 2.

Barrett, who led an NDP government 1972 to 1975 died February 2 at age 87. His health deteriorated in his later years due to Alzheimer’s.

Barrett led BC’s first NDP government, busting out of office a 20-year centre-right Social-Credit government.  “His visionary leadership and unflinching commitment to the well-being of ordinary people around the province led to lasting change that shaped our province for the better. In just one short term, his government delivered our first modern ambulance service, the Agricultural Land Reserve and public auto insurance. We are all better off, thanks to his tireless work and immeasurable contributions to public life,” said Premier Horgan.

Horgan said that Barrett’s sense of humour and ability to command a room with his oratory was legendary. “First and foremost, I will always remember his commitment to working for regular people.”

“He was an inspiration to me and many other British Columbians, and I am grateful for his friendship and guidance over the years. His legacy will live on in our hearts,” said Horgan. Since taking the reins of the first NDP government in 16 years in BC last July, Horgan seems to have taken a page from the Barrett book of politics by getting many initiatives in place right off the bat.

Back in 1972 Barrett took a bold path, writing in his 1995 memoir: “We agreed unanimously to strike while the iron was hot. Our government represented the first real break from the traditional power base of the province. We were free and unfettered to roam in new directions.”

Today BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said about Dave Barrett: “As Premier, he enacted bold, sweeping changes that touched on every aspect of life in BC. He has left a lasting imprint on our province. Many of the reforms enacted under his leadership are still with us today, including lasting protection to our agricultural land through the Agricultural Land Reserve, and Pharmacare.”

Barrett’s education minister at the time did away with corporal punishment in BC schools.


West shore mayors at Vision Westshore 2018. From left: Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, February 1 ~ WEST SHORE. Tonight five west shore mayors covered a wide range of issues in response to questions from businesses and community leaders. Among those attending the Vision 2018 event hosted by the Westshore Chamber of Commerce were municipal leaders, MLA Mitzi Dean, SD62 school district senior staff and chair, developers, Royal Roads University senior leadership, and non-profit organizers.

Langford Mayor Stew Young, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, View Royal Mayor David Screech, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, and Highlands Mayor Ken Williams fielded such topics as regional transportation, housing affordability, educational opportunities, expanding economic and business opportunities including new tech, and the arts.

They even once again addressed that old bugaboo issue – amalgamation, saying that overall the distinct needs of the various municipalities would not be well served by amalgamating all existing 13 municipalities. However, Stew Young reiterated his idea of creating three regional boards (to replace the CRD), which would allow municipalities with similar concerns to work together more than they already do. That would roll out as a west shore region, core region, and peninsula.

It was evident throughout the couple of hours of discussion that these five mayors enjoy and appreciate their communities. They have clearly evolved in both depth and scope over the years in understanding the nuances of issues in their municipalities to the point where rather creative, co-supportive solutions and services have been found.

Like an ecosystem, these west shore communities are in some ways productively co-dependent. For example, Colwood relies on Langford for robust retail, and fire rescue services in several west shore municipalities have reciprocal agreements to help each other out throughout as required. Metchosin contributes their preserved natural landscapes (underscored with a no-growth policy) as a ‘carbon sink’ for the west side of the island, said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns.

On the broadest scope, Langford’s mayor spoke about bringing more offices and technology companies to Langford, which will help provide jobs and reduce the need for long commutes. Metchosin’s mayor added that “technology is the only thing that will get us out of global warming” and appreciates the job and recreational opportunities for his residents in nearby Langford. Last year Langford, Metchosin and Beecher Bay signed a 3-way agreement that brought more development land to Langford, more greenspace to Metchosin, and more economic opportunity to Beecher Bay.

About 175 people attended the event that was held at the Olympic View Golf Course, emceed by retired broadcast journalist Bruce Williams. Williams took the opportunity to remind the room (in this day and age of ‘fake news’) that the role of media is “to hold people’s feet to the fire”.

The relaxed nature of the evening allowed this experienced group of mayors to wax eloquently and use some ‘insider’ humour to address the news-attentive audience. As a major fundraiser for the Westshore Chamber, the dinner event was $85 per plate for members, $100 for non-members.

Thursday, February 1 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. The Dogwood Initiative in the south Vancouver Island area is organizing a bus for early in the morning on Friday, February 2 to take their supporters to Nanaimo to attend the town hall meeting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be holding at 11 am.
The town hall will be in the gymnasium at Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street. Registration for attending the meeting begins on-site at 9 am. 
This will be Trudeau’s sixth of six town hall meetings held in recent weeks across the country, as “an opportunity for Canadians to discuss ho2 we create more jobs and grow the economy”. This is the only one scheduled in BC.
With angst building between the premiers of Alberta and BC over the TransMountain Pipeline, the Dogwood Initiative is expected to hope for a chance to address environmental issues during questions to the Prime Minister.


Thursday, February 1 ~ COLWOOD. Municipal election season is warming up in the west shore. Two-term Colwood Councillor Rob Martin has announced today February 1 that he will enter the Colwood Mayoral Race in 2018.

Also with experience as the Board Chair of the Greater Victoria Public Library (2016 to present) and Board Chair of Westshore Parks & Recreation (2012-2016) as well as being an active member of the Colwood Emergency Preparation Committee since 2011, Martin brings a broad community approach to his interest in being Colwood’s next mayor.

A resident of Colwood with his wife Sheila for the past 21 years, their children have attended SD62 schools.
As well as Council duties, Martin runs his own small business, Precise Surgical & Medical Supplies.

“Colwood is at a pivotal time in its history,” says Martin. He has four main areas of concern: housing affordability, honouring truth and reconciliation with indigenous neighbours, the complexities of transportation issues for the west shore, and fostering the West Shore rec centre for use by residents.

With still a chunk of this year to continuing serving as a Councillor on Colwood Council, Martin says he loves being a Councillor. “The work is engaging. I really want to spend the next six months working on some projects that I am excited about. I really believe the best way to campaign is to show it through my works, not just my words,” he told media today.

At Colwood council meetings, Martin often ably summarizes what is going on while handily moving the conversation forward with observations and options.

Rob expects to informally talk with residents about his vision and listen even more over the next four to six months. “Announcing today was about being able to start the conversation,” he says.


Traffic congestion in the west shore during commuter rush hour. [West Shore Voice News photo, Aug 2017]

Wednesday, January 31 ~ WEST SHORE. UPDATE on DECISION-MAKING about REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION ~ by West Shore Voice News

It’s painfully obvious that the Greater Victoria area has transportation congestion issues – particularly for weekday vehicle commuters travelling between the west shore and core areas for employment and post-secondary.  This problem has intensified in the last few years as more people flock to live in the west shore areas of Langford, Colwood and Sooke where housing is considered more affordable.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has for years articulated the regional commuter transportation dynamic. Last year he welcomed more BC Transit bus service into Langford and put out there the idea of bus lanes on Highway 1 as a way to speed along transit users. He has continually proposed that the long-neglected E&N rail corridor be activated for additional bus service to and from downtown Victoria and points in between; the province should do that, not a non-profit organization, Mayor Young has continually suggested.

On January 19, Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) while announcing Highway 14 improvements in Sooke reiterated his long-time support for doing something productive with the dormant E&N.  “I’m going to work with what we have in front of us,” Horgan said. “I think we can come up with a structure that works for everybody. We need to have a common purpose for the region.”  The Premier said: “I don’t think we need a new bureaucracy. How do we break down the barriers between municipalities?”

Horgan said Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean is now helping coordinate a consultation to get input from key stakeholders, so that BC Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) Minister Claire Trevena will have more to work with.

This follows the vanguard City of Langford council which, on January 8, passed a motion to support a “no-cost advisory committee made of local government representatives to provide recommendations and priorities to BC Transit and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure”. That would be instead of the CRD’s Bylaw 4093 to create a Regional Transportation Service that would come along with a $2.5 million price tag, ultimately passed along to taxpayers.

As well, on January 8, Langford Council in its unanimously-approved motion said that any Regional Transportation Service at the CRD level should be provided only with the consent of every municipal council (and not using a mechanism called the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) which requires 10% of an electorate to speak against something, otherwise it goes through). Langford’s motion further said that any municipality should be able to opt out of a CRD Regional Transportation Service.

On January 10, the CRD board passed 3rd reading of Bylaw 4093, bringing the region that much closer to having a regional transportation governance instrument. Larger core municipalities like Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay have more votes at the board table, making it often impossible for west shore municipalities to sway any vote at the table. If the next stage in the approval process is the AAP, then effectively the Bylaw is a done deal (it’s usually quite a task to get out 10% of a voting population to be actively against something).

Well, that stirred up a ruckus, with Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton at her January 22 Council meeting reading out the January 8 Langford resolution to her council and those in the room. The next day she sent out a letter to CRD Chair Steve Price (Mayor of Sidney), with a c.c. to Premier Horgan, BC municipalities and housing minister Selina Robinson, MOTI minister Trevena, MLA Dean, all municipal mayors and councils, and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director. In that 3-page missive, Hamilton emphatically disagreed that CRD’s proposed new service is the solution to regional transportation congestion problems.

“The CRD’s eagerness to create a vague ill-defined service for the purpose of political gain is very short-sighted,” Mayor Hamilton wrote. She said that meaningful discussion about solutions rather than creating another service with further taxing authority (as in Bylaw 4093) is the way to go.

That the original Regional Transportation Service idea was going to carry a $10 million price tag (now down to $2.5 million) indicates a massive gap between what goes on at a desktop analytical level compared to what is needed, seen and experienced on the ground. No hope of amalgamation in the region with this sort of disconnect emerging!

Chair Price in a letter January 12 to all municipalities said a CRD transportation service would not replace other strategies but would “complement other initiatives and enhance the profile of the region’s needs” including those of municipalities.

Notably, Hamilton says that “Colwood disagrees that the region has no voice without the establishment of a CRD service”. She itemized the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and the BC Transit Commission, as well as meetings with mayors with the Minister of Transportation, having generated appropriate and effective movement forward.  She hit hard against the idea of using the Alternative Approval Process, which essentially requires a counter-petition to overrule an approved motion, that being “the ultimate disrespect of democratically, locally elected Councils tasked with governing their communities”

Without belaboring all this, here’s the main point. Municipalities in affected areas of the wider region need to have their own say and see effective solutions for their affected areas. That means the west shore municipalities not being subject to override by municipalities with more weighted votes at the CRD board table, when the final cross to bear will be the western communities themselves.

Political mumbo jumbo! What does this matter to the average reader? West shore mayors are trying to find cost-effective solutions through dialogue and leveraging resources that are already out there, including dialogue with the provincial government.  Relatively straightforward things like bus lanes on major routes and opening up transit use on the E&N rail corridor could be activated plans sooner than later. Achieved through dialogue and use of existing systems and resources. Another level of regional study, when – as the Premier said on January 19, MOTI already “has a room full of studies on the E&N corridor” — would delay some sensible solutions that could relieve traffic congestion sooner than later.  “We want to make progress, we want to make something done there,” Horgan said.

CRD says there would be no additional costs on establishment of the service, but identifies a maximum requisition of $2.5 million for the service.

Bylaw 4093 itemizes an exhaustive list of services that could easily take years to wade through before producing recommendations, including: transportation policy, plans, surveys and studies; data collection, monitoring, analysis and reporting; transportation modelling; web-based and multi-media platforms; programming, planning and promotion; partnerships for data, analysis, planning, programming and policy; and transportation grant submissions. It is doubtful the residents and commuters of the west shore want to wait for all that.

The next CRD board meeting after the February 23 deadline for municipal response is on March 14.

The next municipal election is October 20. Whichever mayors are elected also arrive at the CRD board table as directors there. The electorate does not get to vote separately for representation at the CRD regional level.

~ Editor, West Shore Voice News

The new municipal road called Division Avenue will be open as a detour through the Belmont Market construction site. [Photo: West Shore Voice News, January 2018]

Tuesday, January 30 ~ LANGFORD. Jacklin Road detour during Belmont Market construction, starts February 13.

For those who commute regularly through Langford, from Sooke Road over to the Langford core, this one is for you!

A new municipal road called Division Avenue will soon be open for use through what is now the construction site for the new Belmont Market (on the old Belmont school site). The City of Langford will issue a Traffic Advisory with the exact date, but as a commuter, you’ll know!

Closing off a section of Jacklin Road between Terlane and Jenkins (the section you’d take from Sooke Road to reach Westshore Town Centre), is still on track for Tuesday February 13.

The closure will be in both directions, for about four months (or maybe to July 13 as posted on marquee signs this week). After that, some improvements will be done on Jenkins Avenue, but that work can be completed with single-lane alternating traffic.

The City and the contractor are on track to contact residents who are directly affected. That would also include the Sooke School District 62 administration office, just a stone’s throw beyond the section of Jacklin that will be closed.
“Residents living in the closure area will be given full continued access however the general public will not be allowed into the construction zone. Businesses will also be notified in the general region of the construction works (e.g. North of Jenkins Avenue and south of Division Avenue),” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

Division Avenue will be opened to the public before Jacklin Road is closed so that traffic can use this as a detour.

The road closure is to best enable efficient and safe completion of a large amount of construction works slated for this section of road including: • Watermain replacement by CRD Water • Installation of a new sewer main • Completion of sidewalks on the east side of Jacklin Rd (the west side of Jacklin Rd sidewalks would be installed as development proceeds on that side of the road) • Bikelane completion on both sides of Jacklin Rd • A new signal light at Terlane Ave leading to a controlled entry point to the Belmont Market property • Landscaping • Transit stops .

The road improvements were a requirement of rezoning for the Belmont Market site and are being paid for by the Developer.

“If the road were not closed for this work it would likely take twice as long or more to complete the work and would prove very challenging,” says Mahovlich.

The closure does not go south as far as the Galloping Goose. It stops short (just north of) the SD62 school board office. There is a project map on the www.langford.ca website.

“I believe we will be impacted when Jacklin is worked on,” says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. People will need to take the detour. “Langford is leading that awareness piece as they are responsible for managing traffic flow.”

Other ways to get into or through Langford during the Jacklin Road interruption are of course the new West Shore Parkway and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The City has been doing pothole repairs on Jacklin and Jenkins. With cold weather and snow the potholes were opening back up and proving to be an ongoing maintenance challenge.


BC Premier John Horgan in South Korea, January 2018.

Saturday, January 27 ~ BC.  BC Premier John Horgan says what’s impacted him most so far on his 10-day economic development trip to three countries in Asia is “the staggering magnitude and scale of China… to see it first hand – the traffic, people, air quality.”

With enthusiasm, addressing media by phone on Friday January 26: “These are real opportunities for the clean tech sector. (Canada is) a small player on the international stage compared to China.”

Horgan’s trip that includes urban stops in Beijing, China, in Seoul, South Korea (where he toured a new tech hub that popped up over the last 10 years), and Tokyo, Japan is about “job creation and investment for BC”.

He added: “This trip has shaped my perspective of the enormous potential for BC to diversity our trade.”

“Trade between BC and South Korea is important to our province’s economy, and ultimately job creation in BC,” said Premier Horgan in a news release today January 27. “We’re meeting face-to-face with our partners in South Korea to encourage further business relationships, and to strengthen the economic and cultural ties we already share.”

Premier Horgan and Ralston also visited Netmarble, Korea’s largest social-gaming company. Netmarble confirmed that its Vancouver subsidiary, Kabam, will expand studio space to create new jobs in the growing BC tech sector.
One of the virtual partnerships of note was the launch of a BC agrifoods marketing prtomotion on the Korea-based Coupang e-commerce website. Coupang has the largest customer base in the South Korean e-commerce market, with more than 28 million users.

During the BC Partnerships luncheon, Premier Horgan helped launch the Coupang marketing promotion, where 23 BC agrifoods companies will list more than 100 products. The e-commerce market in South Korea was worth $41 billion in 2015, representing nearly 11% of total retail market share.

Another highlight of the trip to South Korea was the recognition of the 10th anniversary of the BC-Gyeonggi sister-province relationship. Gyeonggi is Korea’s leading technology province, and shares many mutual bilateral objectives with British Columbia. To support this relationship, Premier Horgan and Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil have signed a renewed three-year economic action plan, enhancing co-operation in the areas of digital media, information and communications technology/wireless technology, agrifoods, wood products and low-carbon construction, and tourism.

Following the signing of the three-year action plan, a collaboration agreement was signed between DigiBC and the head of the Gyeonggi Content Agency, which will support the growth of the digital media sector in BC and Gyeonggi.

The events in South Korea follow activities that have taken place over the past few days in China as part of government’s first business trip to Asia. The Premier and ministers will be in Japan for the next three days before returning to BC on January 30.

Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Thursday, January 25 ~ OTTAWA – Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) has been named as the Agriculture Critic in the NDP Shadow Cabinet. The appointment was announced today in Ottawa by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

In this role MacGregor will also be appointed as the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“As someone who owns a small-scale farm property in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, I am excited to accept this appointment to serve as the NDP’s Agriculture Critic,” said MacGregor.

“The issues surrounding how we produce and consume our food are always on the forefront of the national conversation, and I am looking forward to leading the development of NDP policy on these matters and holding the government to account,” added MacGregor.

“Agricultural producers are among the most important actors in the Canadian economy, and I will make sure their voices are heard in Parliament.”

The appointment was announced today at the NDP Caucus Retreat in Ottawa. MacGregor previously served as the NDP’s Critic for Justice and Attorney General and for Seniors.

MacGregor maintains two constituency offices within the broad geographical region of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford — one in Duncan, and one in Langford.


Dr Bonnie Henry is BC’s new Provincial Health Officer.

Wednesday, January 24 ~ Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been appointed as BC’s new provincial health officer (PHO). She will replace Dr. Perry Kendall, who will retire on Jan. 31, 2018.

Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement to media today, including that Dr Henry is the first woman to hold that position in BC.

Dr Henry says she will contribute independent, evidence-based advice including on the overdose crisis, legalization of cannabis, and drinking water. She said there is still work to do around communicable diseases and acknowledged that British Columbians “are in the middle of a bad influenza season right now”.

Dr Henry has concerns about co-locating cannabis and alcohol in the same provincial liquor-store outlets “and impacts that might have”. “We have expressed that but it’s up to others to make decisions,” she said.

The incoming Public Health Officer says that under Dr Perry Kendall BC has “led the country” in recognizing the overdose crisis and that “a myriad of different measures to try and keep people alive” have been implemented. Dr Henry says the focus is on communities “and what we can do with their unique needs”.

She says progress will be about “building a system that will support people where they are in their journey”. She articulated that pain can be psycho-social, emotional or physical and that it’s not easy to change a chronic relapsing condition under such scenarios.

Providing a safer drug supply is part of the solution, Dr Henry said. The drugs are “toxic and killing people”. She feels strongly about not criminalizing people who use drugs and instead focusing on “helping them wherever they are”.

Today Dr Perry Kendall — who has been BC’s Public Health Officer since 1999 — thanked media for continuing to report factual stories and getting the message out properly in a new world of ‘fake news’.


Tsunami Warning on Tuesday, January 23 after 8.0 quake in Alaska at 1:32 am.

Tuesday, January 23 ~ WEST COAST / VANCOUVER ISLAND. An 8.1 Earthquake has occurred south of Alaska at 01:32am.  As of 4:12 am the TSUNAMI WARNING WAS CANCELLED:

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A Tsunami Warning has been issued for all coastal areas of British Columbia.  It is believed the waves generated may impact low lying areas under 20 metres.

Follow the instructions of authorities in your area. Do not call police or 911 for updates. Visit Emergency Preparedness and municipal websites as well as Twitter for updates.

Minimize phone use in affected areas. For further information go to the emergency management British Columbia website at https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

No evacuations for Sooke are ordered at this time, says Sooke Fire Rescue. Fire crews are patrolling Whiffin Spit (CLOSED) and Billings Spit.

District of Tofino has advised residents to evacuate to higher ground. The tsunami is expected to arrive at Tofino at 4:40 am Pacific Time. See Twitter: @TofinoCA

Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop emailed out “this is not a drill”. The National Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning that includes the following zones of coastal British Columbia:

  • Zone A – the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.
  • Zone B – the Central Coast and Northwest Vancouver Island Coast, including Kitimat, Bella Coola and Port Hardy.
  • Zone C – the Outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.
  • Zone D – the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.

“At this time it is believed that a tsunami has been generated. The tsunami may impact low lying coastal areas in these zones. Local governments in these zones are urged to activate their emergency plans and immediately begin evacuation of identified areas at risk for tsunami impacts,” said Chief Dunlop. No other zones of coastal British Columbia are at risk.

The Township of Esquimalt is monitoring the tsunami warning situation and are setting up a reception centre in case evacuation is necessary – details to follow.

Langford Mayor Stew Young signed MOU with Royal Roads University, joined by Council, and Dale Gann of RRU. [Photo by City of Langford]

Monday, January 22 ~ LANGFORD. Tonight at City of Langford Council, an official collaboration of the fastest growing city in BC together with leading-edge Royal Roads University was forged.

In a brief presentation to Mayor and Council, RRU Business Development Director Dale Gann said that the “attraction, creation and retention” of young talent by the local university is becoming more formal with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Council approved.

Langford Mayor Stew Young said that “retaining young people to stay in our community” is important as the city grows. “Post secondary is paramount for this council as we have grown,” said Mayor Young, in line with his long-time philosophy of building Langford as a community where people can stay to learn, have jobs and build businesses instead of leaving for towns and cities afar. “We improve what we’ve got in our community,” Young said at Council this evening.

The MOU provides the foundation for “meaningful and successful cooperation between Royal Roads University and the the City of Langford”. In the past, the city and the university have interacted in the past, each with regard to its own mission, vision and goals. Now with the formal MOU, the benefits include exploring opportunities, conducting activities and providing strategic advice on areas of mutual benefit, including:

  • Applied research and community-focused education
  • Work-integrated learning opportunities for students
  • Educational services and support relevant to the growth of Langford and the Westshore
  • Meeting the educational needs of local Indigenous communities and international students
  • Business missions, promoting economic prosperity and attracting investment
  • Community development initiatives
  • Relevant seminars and academic meetings
  • Collaboration in sectors such as sustainability and technology

No financial or resource obligations are assumed under this agreement, which is set to last for five years.

The agreement was co-signed by RRU President Allan Cahoon and Langford Mayor Stewart Young.


Sunday, January 21 ~ SOUTH VANCOUVER ISLAND. Extreme winds have caused extensive damage and multiple outages for BC Hydro customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, says the utility on their website this morning.

At present, about 65,000 customers throughout the south coast and island areas are without power. at 9 am, BC Hydro said that it expects outages to increase until the winds decrease.

“Restoration efforts are being coordinated in all regions and restoration times will be provided once full damage assessments are complete.”

On Vancouver Island, as of 9 am this morning:
> Vancouver Island South – 22 outages: 14,951 customers without power
> Vancouver Island North – 32 outages: 11,990 customers without power

Hard hit with the most customers out of power are the Gulf Islands including Galiano, Mayne, Ganges, Pender and Saturna.

In Langford/View Royal 764 customers are without power in the Atkins/Millwoods/Strandlund area.

Other areas on the current list of outages: Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Victoria (Fairfield/James Bay 702 customers without power) and Oak Bay/Saanich (2,072 customers without power).

To report an outage, call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile or report it online at www.bchydro.com


Saturday, January 20 ~ VANCOUVER. Premier, ministers depart for Asia to strengthen relationships, create good jobs in BC. Premier John Horgan departed today to Guangzhou, China, as part of a 10-day mission to China, South Korea and Japan to strengthen economic and cultural ties with three of BC’s largest trading partners, expand markets, and create good jobs for people throughout BC.

Premier Horgan will promote bilateral relationships between British Columbia and key government and business leaders. The Premier will be accompanied by Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston and Minister of State for Trade George Chow. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare will participate in the China portion of the mission to foster tourism opportunities in support of the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism.

The agenda includes bilateral meetings to advance collaboration with BC’s sister provinces, Guangdong, China and Gyeonggi, Korea. Other meetings and events will focus on opening up investment and trade opportunities in key sectors, including tourism, low-carbon and clean technology, forestry, energy, mining, innovation and tech, agrifoods, seafood, and arts and culture.

China, Japan and South Korea are BC’s second-, third- and fourth-largest trading partners, respectively. Developing strong business relationships in priority markets around the world is a key strategy in government’s commitment to building a strong, sustainable economy.

Travel Itinerary: * Jan. 20 – Depart from Vancouver * Jan. 21 – Guangzhou, China * Jan. 23 – Beijing, China * Jan. 25 – Seoul, South Korea * Jan. 27 – Tokyo, Japan


Hwy 14 road improvements announcement January 19 by Premier John Horgan in Sooke, introduced by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Friday, January 19 ~ SOOKE. Premier John Horgan today announced ‘a start’ for the process of improving the travel conditions on Highway 14 (Sooke Road). With a $10 million expenditure in the mix, Horgan’s announcement kicked off the first of multiple phases of safety, transit and congestion improvements for highway that serves as an essential commuter corridor for residents of Sooke, as well as tourists who contribute to economic development of the Sooke area.  Specifically that will be:

  • Three bus pullouts on both sides of Highway 14 at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road
  • A bus queue jump lane at Jacklin Road
  • New safety signs at three locations (Kangaroo Road, Gillespie Road, and Parkland Road)
  • A slow-moving vehicle pullout eats of Muir Creek, between Sooke and French Beach
  • A new rest area at the Sombrio lookout
  • A new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road (at Roche Cove), which is an important alternative route to Highway 14 (when vehicle accidents and other incidents on the main highway block normal through-traffic)
  • Intersections currently without lighting that will receive new LED lights are: Awsworth Rd, Humpback/Woodruff (including one at the bus stop), Manzer, Laidlaw, Parkland and Impala.
  • Intersections that will have new LED lights installed to augment current lighting are: Kangaroo, Connie, Gillespie, Glintz/Polymede, Ludlow, Goodridge (with upgrade to the fire signal), Harbourview, Saseenos, Woodland, Winnipeg, Saseenos Elementary School (4 additional lights including two directly over each side of the crosswalk), Sooke River/Lazzar/Park-and-Ride.

At the Hwy 14 improvements announcement in Sooke, January 19 (from left): Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton (back row), Langford Mayor Stew Young, and Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Horgan has a longstanding association with ‘all things Sooke’ — not only as the MLA since 2005 for what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding (including Sooke to Port Renfrew), but having spent a lot of recreational time in the area.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has long sought improvements to Highway 14, as a way to help connect the rugged seaside forested area of Sooke to the services and growth of Langford which is now the fastest-growing city in BC (other than Surrey in the Lower Mainland). For Young this announcement was a good start, in that his vision for the west shore has included better road accessibliity to Sooke for about 25 years now.

“It’s better to put money into infrastructure than into more studies,” Mayor Stew Young told West Shore Voice News during the roadside media announcement today.  Noting the housing affordability of Sooke and similarly Langford, Mayor Young said that better, safer travel on Highway 14 will help link the two communities together to build a great community and a greater economy. The scale is good here. It help businesses. As Sooke grows, you have to make sure your construction keeps up with that. I know there’s going to be more coming, there might be widening. Today we’re hearing that safety and lighting improvements are first.

Langford’s Mayor was glad to hear today’s announcement. “Give them a year or two and see how much funding they have for more. Economic development is important here in the west shore region,” said Stew Young.

BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca) chatted with youth during the Hwy 14 road improvements announcement [West Shore Voice News photo]

At the podium with Premier Horgan was Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who said Sooke and the surrounding region is connected by this single highway. “Residents and politicians and alike have been asking for safety improvements for commuters, transit users, pedestrians and everyone else who relies on this.”

Tait said that young people and retirees are being attracted to Sooke as a growing community “with proximity to large urban centres that afford us access to diverse employment opportunities, health care, educational programs and the like”. She acknowledged that Sooke relies on Highway 14 “to connect us to the west shore and Victoria.”

Horgan says his government’s budget in February will include more announcements for improvements on Highway 14, more to do with actual work on the road itself (in addition to the lighting and public transit-related announcements made today).

Over 100 people showed up for the rainy-day announcement held at 1 pm at the Park-and-Ride across from Edward Milne Community School (EMCS) on Highway 14 at Lazzar Road. In addition to politicians (including members of Sooke council, Langford Council, and BC Transit) and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, there were many active members of the Sooke community including business and education leaders.

Two youth from EMCS said the impact of road closures on Highway 14 when there are accidents has meant that teachers cannot sometimes get to the school, and that when fellow students are injured on the road it affects the entire school community.


Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz announcing rate hike on January 17, 2018.

Thursday, January 18 ~ NATIONAL. The Bank of Canada’s increase in their benchmark interest rate to 1.25% (from 1%) follows two increases of .25% that were implemented in summer/fall 2017.

The bank rate is usually moved upwards as a mechanism to control or contain an inflationary market. The new rate of 1.25% is the highest level in Canada since 2009.

As of Thursday, January 18, all five big banks (TD, Scotia, BMO, RBC and CIBC) now have the same prime lending rate of 3.45%. Prior to the Bank of Canada’s move, their rates were all 3.2%.

While job numbers were apparently strong in the latter part of 2017, that data appears not to have been fully explored for job quality (i.e. part time / full time / level of benefits) and may include a wave of seasonal hiring ahead of the Christmas retail season.

In the fall of 2017 — with the anticipated impact of the mortgage stress test that is now in place (as of January 1 2018) — there began a ‘rush on the bank’, if you will. People locked into low-rate and fixed-rate mortgages and/or buying properties at all. The lower end of the market was squeezed — fewer entry level buyers were qualifying, and owners of lower-end properties were challenged to find available buyers.

The level of household debt in Canada is at its highest level ever seen, sitting at 171.1% as of the 3rd Quarter. That includes mortgages, lines of credit and credit card debt.

So while “savers will benefit” (i.e. people who already have money set aside), most of the rest of the middle class, workers and consumers will be further hard pressed to maintain lines of credit and pay down mortgages and credit cards.

Thursday, January 18 ~ COASTAL BC. BC Ferries vessels and terminals will become a smoke-free environment as of January 22, 2018. This policy change was first announced last summer.

The coastal transportation provider says it is introducing a smoke-free environment to support the health and wellness of customers and employees.

The new policy applies to the smoking of tobacco and any other substance, including the use of e-cigarettes. All vessels and terminal properties will become smoke and vape-free environments, including the interior of all vehicles that are on BC Ferries property.

BC Ferries says it has received many requests from customers to offer a smoke-free environment.

Amazon has shortlisted 20 cities for its Thunderdome (second headquarters).

Thursday, January 18 ~ LANGFORD. Only one Canadian city is among the top 20 finalists in the highly sought-after prize of being the location for Amazon’s Thunderdome (its second headquarters or HQ2), and that’s Toronto.

Bids were received by Amazon from 238 cities across North America. Here in BC, a bid had been submitted by Vancouver and the growing City of Langford on Vancouver Island. In Alberta, Calgary had also shown interest by submitting a bid.

Of the other 19 cities on the shortlist, many are clustered on the eastern seaboard of the US or in America’s midland heartland, with only one on the west coast:• Atlanta, GA• Austin, TX• Boston, MA• Chicago, IL• Columbus, OH• Dallas, TX• Denver, CO• Indianapolis, IN• Los Angeles, CA• Miami, FL• Montgomery County, MD• Nashville, TN• Newark, NJ• New York City, NY• Northern Virginia, VA• Philadelphia, PA• Pittsburgh, PA• Raleigh, NC• Toronto, ON• Washington DC

It was one of Amazon’s goals to build its second headquarters some distance away from its original Seattle headquarters, which as a different shipping location would reduce distance and time for many deliveries. As well, the ‘elephant in the room’ is that Seattle is smack dab within the west coast earthquake zone.

Amazon has said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

The selected candidates will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said today, January 18. Amazon says it will make a final decision on the site of its new headquarters this year.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of economic development. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Amazon provided little detail about how it picked the finalists for its second headquarters, which it is calling HQ2, other than to say it based it choices on the criteria it laid out for the search earlier.

As reported by the New York Times, the H2Q bidding process has also attracted critics. They quote Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization that serves as an advocate for local businesses, who said that local politicians were enhancing Amazon’s image just as the company’s market power was under growing scrutiny from groups like her own. “As these cities woo and grovel, they are basically communicating this idea that we should want Amazon to be bigger and more powerful in our economy,” Ms. Mitchell said.

Other critics have said the magnitude of Amazon in any given city would displace smaller businesses in part by drawing away talent to the mega-Amazon. Whatever city gets the prized HQ2 contract will probably see an additional burden on municipal taxpayers for things like more roads and other infrastructure and require a larger system of services including housing, retail and medical. Likely appreciating this, Amazon did specify in the bid criteria that potential locations should have a population of at least 1 million, so that knock-on impacts could be absorbed.


Presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. The International Student Program is a significant revenue-generator for Sooke School District 62 (SD62). Students come to study for one or more years of public education in the west shore, paying for tuition and accommodation.

In a presentation January 9 by SD62 Principal of International Students Programs, Laura Schwertfeger (at an Education Committee of the Whole meeting) addressed trustees, staff, and stakeholder reps about international students, ELL/English Language Learner students (formerly ESL) who stay as  part of the community, and overall supports for welcoming.

Schwertfeger — who most recently has travelled to Switzerland to promote the west shore as a progressive place to get an English-speaking education — said students are presently in SD62 schools from about 20 countries. Most of the students attending in SD62 are from China (about 30-40%), Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. There are also students visiting from Vietnam, Russia, Austria, and Australia. The greatest number of International Students are in Langford-area schools “which speaks to housing availability”, said Schwertfeger.

There are 40 visiting students at Belmont Secondary, 20 at Ruth King Elementary, and several at Spencer Middle School. SD62 aims to balance the numbers from a range of originating countries. Most International Students come for language development but also from English-speaking countries like Australia for a short-term cultural experience. Vietnamese students are often here long-term, for 2 to 4 years. The number of Russian students has increased recently and more are coming from Iran.

The program team has visited about 30 different countries. Agents and partners to do most of the presentations, while SD62 staff personally attend areas of “significant potential”. In Switzerland “the appetite to come to Canada is significant compared to going to the US,” said Schwertfeger.

Last fall about 1,600 participants attended her presentations in Switzerland over two days.  Another aspect of the International Program is “moving to an intercultural mindset” with cultural diversity supports offered to teachers, staff, students and community.

SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull says there are 280 full-time-equivalent International Students in SD62 this year.  Tuition per student is $12,500 per academic year for all school levels.


Monday, January 15 ~ WEST SHORE. Opportunity for Parent & Community Input (SD62 – Langford, Colwood Sooke).

While discussion of the Strategic Plan was kept tight and short at SD62’s Education Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday evening, January 9, the document itself is fairly extensive, as will be the impact of its implementation throughout schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke over the next several years.

Parents of students attending SD62 schools will have received an email in recent weeks, asking for their input. Busy families — if they haven’t already — might want to at least read the Strategic Plan document to be up to speed with the ideas, whether or not they have the time or inclination to send an email with comments.

You can see and download the SD62 Strategic Plan at http://www.sd62.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2017/12/Strategic-Plan-Version-1-as-at-December-2017.pdf

Comments may be emailed to info@sd62.bc.ca and the deadline is now end of the day Thursday, January 18 (extended from January 12). The board could approve the Strategic Plan as soon as January 23.

The current SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge will be retiring at the end of July 2018, with a new (yet to be hired) Superintendent filling his much-accomplished shoes. The current board is comprised mostly of long-term trustees, some of whom may not run again in October 2018.

The Strategic Plan is in part a legacy document to try and ensure that the many accomplishments of the 2014-2018 board in particular will be preserved into the future.

SD62 is the fastest-growing school district in BC, with about 500 more students expected to register into schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke each year during the next five years.

> Vision: honour student voice and choice through engaging, purposeful and experiential learning in a safe and respectful community
> Values: Relationships, Choice,
> Respect, Integrity, Trust, Safety
> Mission: to develop informed, literate and resilient citizens and sustain a safe, respectful and responsive learning community.
> Goals: Learning | Engagement | Growth


Highway 14 (Sooke Road) westbound to Sooke. {West Shore Voice News photo – January 2018]

Sunday, January 14 ~ SOOKE.  BC Hydro will be doing some roadside work on Highway 14 (Sooke Road) this week, which they anticipate will cause some traffic delays.

As Highway 14 is pretty much the only way in and out of Sooke, the pre-advisory is helpful to commuters who rely on the provincial highway. Work will be done 9 am to 3 pm on two days:

  • On January 16 it is pole work that would include equipment replacement in the 5500/5600-block stretch (Goodridge Road to Laidlaw Road),  expect delays 9am to 3pm.
  • On January 18 the work is a pole replacement. Expect delays just east of Kangaroo Road, 9am to 3pm.

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) eastbound toward Langford. [West Shore Voice News photo – January 2018]

Traffic through the work zones will be reduced to single lane, alternating traffic, says the utility’s Vancouver Island – Sunshine Coast Community Relations office.

These are just two portions of the poorly lit, poorly sight-lined provincial Hwy 14 where vehicle accidents frequently occur.

A few months ago, Premier John Horgan (MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding through which Sooke Road intersects) sent back a traffic plan to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for considerable revision because while it addressed bus transit and overall driver awareness issues, it lacked solutions for real problems that face motorists on Highway 14.

H3N2 is prevalent in the 2017-2018 flu season.

Saturday, January 13 ~ FLU SEASON UPDATE. The number of people getting influenza infections continues to rise across Canada, with 15,572 laboratory-confirmed cases for the season as of January 6. That’s almost double the first-week-of-January stats for 2017, as reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The majority of cases continue to be the H3N2 type of Influenza A, a strain that tends to cause more severe illness, particularly among the elderly and children.

Usually most infections with the B strain of flu happen at a later phase in the flu season, but this year the B strain is concurrent with A strain. The B strain is appearing with about 20-times more detections so far this season than for the same time period in the last seven years, says PHAC.

Overall this year, people age 65+ are the most affected by flu. There have been 54 reported flu deaths in Canada this 2017-2018 flu season (of those, five were children). There have been 1,850 reported hospitalizations (68% of those are seniors).

People who get the flu are asked to stay home (to avoid spreading the illness), and to wash their hands frequently. If you have to sneeze, do so into a tissue or into the sleeve of your shirt or jacket.


BC Premier John Horgan and his brother Pat Horgan.

Thursday, January 11 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier John Horgan is “very much in family mode this week”, upon the passing of his oldest brother, Pat Horgan on January 6.

The Premier’s office announced the news today, January 11: “It’s with great sadness that we announce that Pat Horgan, Premier John Horgan’s brother, passed away on Saturday, January, 6, 2018. Pat passed away from cancer at the age of 71. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.”

A service will be held in Pat’s home community of Port McNeill on February 10, 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the BC Cancer Agency in support of lung cancer research. Messages to the family can be sent by email to: shirpath04@gmail.com

According to the Premier’s staff, John Horgan, 58, looked up to brother Pat Horgan as a father figure. John Horgan has another brother and a sister. His mom passed away about nine years ago. John Horgan was born in Victoria, the son of Pat and Alice Horgan, who had four children. Horgan has been heard to say that he has no memories of his father, who died when Horgan was quite young. But based on stories from his family, he apparently takes a lot after his dad.

John Horgan has been the MLA for what is now the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding (including Sooke), since 2005.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (in Vancouver, Aug 2017)

Wednesday, January 10 ~ BC. Three-term Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced today that he will not be seeking reelection in the October 2018 municipal election.

Robertson has left a strong footprint with his work in climate change, transportation and housing concerns in Canada’s western-most major metropolis. He was the only Canadian mayor invited to discuss climate change with the Pope in Vatican City in July 2015.

Having held the position of mayor for 10 years, Robertson today described his decision as ‘intensely personal’ and says he will not continue in politics.  “An important part of leadership is to know when to make space for new voices and leaders,” he said from Vancouver City Hall today.

In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook, Robertson included that Vancouver has led the national effort to fight for health-focused drug policy and saving lives in the opioid overdose crisis.

In response to this news today, BC Premier John Horgan released the following statement about Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s decision to not seek re-election in 2018: “I have known Gregor Robertson for many years. He was a trusted colleague when we worked together as MLAs in Victoria, and he is a valued partner as we work with local governments to make life better for people. From transit and transportation, to housing and homelessness, Gregor has been a passionate advocate for people. He can be proud of the work he and council have done to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world. On behalf of British Columbians, I want to thank Gregor for his many years of public service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted today: “Thanks, @MayorGregor, for your friendship, partnership, and years of service & work for people in Vancouver. Wishing you all the best.”

CRD Board Meeting January 10, 2018 (screenshot)

Wednesday, January 10 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. The outlying area of Juan de Fuca west of Sooke may yet get their piped water through the Capital Regional District (CRD). 

The CRD Board today January 10 approved a revised draft Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). Approval of the revised draft follows a successful mediation process with the BC Government (from February 2017 until January 5, 2018), to resolve disputed provisions related to managing growth, water servicing, climate action, food systems and transportation.

CRD Board Chair Steve Price (Mayor of Sidney) was in favour of referring the RGS document to municipal councils for acceptance. “The revisions seek to address the interests of all the parties, and set the stage for how the region will approach future growth,” said Price.

Adoption of the RGS bylaw requires all municipalities within the capital region to approve the growth strategy. Mediation was triggered in February 2017 when seven municipalities (Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood and Esquimalt) refused to accept the RGS. Provincial legislation provides specific dispute resolution mechanisms to settle an RGS that does not receive unanimous municipal acceptance.

“The mediation process was a very positive experience” says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks. “I hope that all councils will support the mediation compromise that came out of the process so we can put this dispute behind us.” He further explained that OCPs in Juan de Fuca must be consistent with the RGS, and that once the RGS is finally approved that OCP documents in the JdFEA can finally be brought up to date.

Director Hicks said there is a backlog of work and that Juan de Fuca constituents need zoning for development. Ahead of today’s vote at the CRD board table, Hicks appealed to fellow directors to endorse the mediated RGS “to give some neighbouring residents in the Juan de Fuca to connect to CRD water, and give all JDF residents the opportunity to pass their OCPs and be an equal partner in the CRD region”.

The solutions generated by mediation focus on seven topic areas: vision / population projections, economic development, climate action, transportation, food systems, growth management and water servicing. Solutions included revised policy provisions, updated mapping and population projections, updated content related to food systems and climate action, and terminology edits.

The next step in the process is a 60-day referral of the document to municipal councils for acceptance. If all councils accept the revised document, the Board may adopt the RGS as bylaw.

The RGS bylaw will update the existing growth strategy, adopted back in 2003. The RGS guides decisions on regional issues, provides population and employment projections to the year 2038 and updates policy regarding water servicing, growth management, the environment and infrastructure, housing and community, transportation and economic development.

Director Alice Finall (Mayor of North Saanich) at today’s CRD board meeting noted that 2016 census figures were not yet included in the RGS but that waiting for that amendment would delay the RGS approval process. As Director Barb Desjardins (Mayor of Esquimalt, and former CRD Chair) pointed out, that detail can be brought up to speed after the RGS might be passed.

The 2018 RGS also provides new policy regarding food systems and climate action. Visit www.crd.bc.ca/sustainability for more information.

Mike Hicks, Director, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area [West Shore Voice News File Photo – July 2017]

Friday, January 5 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Fought for long and hard by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, recently-concluded mediation by the BC Government sees the extension of CRD piped water services made available to residents of JdF areas, including Otter Point to Port Renfrew (East Sooke and Malahat are also in JdFEA).

Until the mediation that concluded Jan 5, seven of the 13 municipalities within the CRD (Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood and Esquimalt) had rejected the idea of piped-water extension by rejecting the overall Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

Over the past year or two, Hicks had the continued support of Langford as well as the neighbouring Sooke municipality. Hicks’ pitch to Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-JdF) helped move things along, with Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson then extending the mediation deadline from Nov 30/17 to January 15.

CRD Directors will vote on the mediated solution at their board meeting on Wednesday January 10. If approved by the CRD Board, the RGS goes back to municipal councils for final approval.

The RGS is used as an overall guiding tool for regional development including transportation, land use, water, waste management, environmental services, arts and recreation, hospitals, planning strategies, and protective services.


Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Wednesday, January 3 ~ SOOKE.  RCMP have identified a Sooke man as the person killed in a two-vehicle crash last Friday, December 29 in the 5900-block of Sooke Road (Provincial Highway 14).

Police said Drew Ripley, 48 — driver of a grey Dodge Caravan heading westbound on Sooke Road — was pronounced dead at the scene. A woman driving an SUV heading eastbound was taken to hospital, but later released. Police said yesterday that no charges will be laid.

RCMP, Sooke Fire Rescue and the BC Ambulance Service were called to the two-vehicle collision at about 4:20 pm on Sooke Road, between Parkland and Woodlands Roads. The BC Coroner also arrived on scene shortly after that.

The woman who had been driving the eastbound green Jeep SUV had to be extricated by Sooke Fire Rescue using their hydraulic equipment.

“The investigation is ongoing. However, it appears from initial witness reports that the Dodge Caravan was travelling westbound when it crossed over the double solid line, colliding with the SUV travelling in the eastbound lane,” said RCMP Cpl. Joe Holmes in a press release.

Road conditions were wet and the sky was almost dark, near dusk. There were no passengers in either vehicle.

The collision caused major traffic delays, however, it occurred in an area where traffic could be diverted around the closed portion of the Highway. The vehicles were removed around 10:15 pm on the night of the crash but the road remained closed as BC Hydro and road crews cleaned up the area.

Wednesday, January 3 ~ VICTORIA. The BC Government is raising the 2018 homeowner grant threshold to $1.65 million, ensuring the same percentage of British Columbia homes are below the threshold as in 2017.  That percentage was about 91% in 2017.

The increase is one very firm indicator of how much the value of housing has increased in the past year (in 2017 the threshold was $1.6 million, which jumped from the level of $1.2 million in 2016).

Eligible homeowners must apply for the homeowner grant each year. To be eligible for a grant, the home must be used as the owner’s principal residence. The homeowner grant is automatically calculated on a homeowner’s property tax notice.

The homeowner grant amounts are: $570 for the basic homeowner grant | $770 if the home is located in a northern or rural area | Up to $845 for homeowners who are 65 years or older, or the homeowner is a person with a disability.  | Up to $1,045 for homeowners who are 65 years or older, or the homeowner is a person with a disability if the home is in a northern or rural area.

Some low-income owners, such as seniors or people with disabilities, can apply to supplement their homeowner grant if it has been reduced or eliminated because of the high assessed value of their principal residence. Homeowners may also be eligible for property tax deferment if they are 55 years or older, or are financially supporting a dependent child.

Homeowner grants will return an estimated $825 million to British Columbians this year. The Province reimburses municipalities for the full cost of the homeowner grant to make sure municipal revenues are not affected. In the majority of BC communities, almost every home is valued below the threshold.

Home Owner Grants: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/reduce/home-owner-grant
To apply for low-income grant supplement: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/reduce/home-owner-grant/senior/low-income
Qualification for property tax deferment: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/defer-taxes


Tuesday, January 2 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. Overall in Greater Victoria the continuing demand for housing in this region retained strong interest in 2017 with those who can afford to own a home. In figures released by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board today, 2017 saw fewer property sales (8,944 this year compared to 10,622 last year), but prices were higher at this year-end than in December 2016.

In Greater Victoria the overall actual average sale price of a single-family home went up about $50,000 in one year (Dec 2016 to Dec 2017). The HPI (data-adjusted figure based on selected criteria like transportation and proximity to schools and services) went up more than that — an increase of $67,200 between December 2016 and December 2017 which implies an upward trend perhaps for 2018 as well.

WEST SHORE FOCUS: Comparing the 2017 year-end to one year ago, actual house sale average prices were virtually unchanged in Langford ($684,132 this year compared to $685,942 in December last year) although the HPI (data-adjusted prices) jumped $84,000 during 2017.

Colwood prices skyrocketed, with an actual sales average increase of $142,565 in that same one-year period (house sales in December 2017 averaged $728,373 in Colwood compared to $585,808 in December last year).

In Sooke, the overall sale price of homes in one year dropped about $42,000 (from $527,854 in December last year to $485,718 in December this year) though both are still around half a million dollars to live in a fairly remote semi-rural area.

The availability of different types of housing probably contributes to the differences. Langford is consistently building a range of housing types including single-family, townhomes and some condos (as well as rental apartments and affordable housing buildings) while Colwood is seeing a lot of new construction in the higher end of single family homes. In Sooke it’s possible much of the best stock already sold in the very active year that was 2016.

BROADER ISSUES: The new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mortgage rules (as of January 1, 2018) that include a ‘stress test’ to determine if a homeowner’s income can withstand interest rate increases, caused a bit of a pre-2018 rush in housing sales in November 2017 in particular. While the government says it hopes to see the housing market cool a bit (and they say they want to protect buyers from over-reaching their ability), the dream of homeownership is increasingly unavailable to many people in Canada — especially in the inflated Victoria/Vancouver markets.

The underlying problem is a precarious job market in which fewer stable long-term jobs are available compared to in decades past. And underlying that scenario is a financial system that has for about 30 years favoured the winners to keep on winning, pushing affordability in all respects further out of the reach of average workers and much of the middle class.

In Canada overall, the crash of 2008 was followed by about nine years of stagnant economic growth. That was compounded in BC by a government whose policies to privatize, use crown corporations as cash-cows, and save at all costs for a rainy day left little fresh energy or opportunity in the economic system for small business and workers alike.

After the second world war, Canada started CMHC and created the housing market as a vehicle for personal and family investment as well as government tax revenue. Now very much an investment tool for those who can afford it, the housing financial system in Canada has completely lost sight of the main purpose of real estate which is to put a roof over people’s heads.

Pushing previous low-end homeowners back into the rental market (and keeping more people renting because they can’t afford to enter the market) is an additional ‘unintended consequence’ of rising house prices. This makes rental availability virtually nil for that new group of renters as well as those who have always rented (which includes most of the Millennials).

All of this is a crisis waiting to burst. It has yet to be seen whether actions by the federal and BC government (with options like affordable housing, as well as the ‘cooling’ of the homebuyer market) will be able to moderate the looming crisis of ‘where are people going to live’? And if people can’t afford to buy high-end or even ‘regular’ homes, the construction industry will have to shift fairly rapidly to building other types of housing to maintain their profitability.

High-density housing in Langford, BC. [West Shore Voice News photo – Aug 2017]

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 ~ BC. Feedback on proposed technical changes to the next edition of BC’s building, plumbing and fire codes can be submitted online up to February 28, 2018 at this BC government link (access open since Dec 12): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/…/building-c…/the-codes/public-review

In general, over the years, standards in the BC Building Code have become increasingly strident or strict. In many cases this has added to the cost of new housing construction and therefore the ticket price of homes new homes available for sale.

While builders and those in and around the construction industry are usually the main providers of feedback, there is room for consumers to have their say.

Building Code topics for input include Accessibility, Area Calculation of Exposing Building Face, Asbestos, Energy Efficiency Standards, Exit Signs, Factory-Constructed Buildings, Fenestration (windows), Heritage Buildings, Mid-Rise Combustible Construction, Outdoor Design Conditions and Air Cleaning, Radon, Stairs (dimensions of tapered treads, handrails in curved stairs, no spiral stairs).
> BC Plumbing Code topics for input include Asbestos, and Plumbing Fixtures.
> BC Fire Code topics for input include fire systems, emergency lighting, smoke alarms and use of elevators.

The current BC Building, Plumbing and Fire Codes came into effect December 20, 2012.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the beach at Sidney Spit {Aug 2017 – photo by Mary P Brooke – West Shore Voice News]

Sunday, December 31 ~ OTTAWA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement to mark the new year, 2018: “Happy New Year, Canada!

“This past year, we marked the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and looked back on the remarkable achievements Canadians have made throughout our history. We recommitted ourselves to our shared values, and we celebrated the diversity that makes us strong. Millions of people – of every background, origin, culture, and faith – have come together to make Canada the diverse, open, and prosperous country it is today.

“The 150th anniversary of Confederation was also a chance to reflect on the moments Canada has not lived up to its ideals. Indigenous Peoples, and many Canadians, have faced prejudice and oppression in our history. In the New Year and the years to come, we must continue to work to right these wrongs, and make sure everyone has a real and fair shot at success.

“In 2017, we made real progress toward these goals. Our government took action to build a better future for families across Canada – from taking steps to strengthen the Canada Child Benefit and investing in early learning and child care, to creating new opportunities for young people, to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 communities. We made gender equality a priority at home and abroad, and took strong steps to fight climate change and protect our environment, for generations to come. We launched Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy and lowered the small business tax rate – and together, we continued to create jobs, grow our economy, and strengthen the middle class.

“But we still have a lot of hard work left to do. In 2018, let’s continue to celebrate the values that unite us – openness, compassion, equality, and inclusion. Let’s move forward together, put those values into practice, and work to build a better future for all of us.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I wish you a wonderful night and all the best in 2018.”

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 31 ~ VICTORIA.  Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of New Year’s Day 2018:

“The new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities. It is a chance to look back at the challenges we have faced, and to resolve ourselves to overcome obstacles in the year to come.

“From addressing housing affordability to tackling the opioid crisis, and the ongoing recovery from last year’s devastating wildfires, we have no shortage of important work to do in the coming year.

“On New Year’s Day we are given the opportunity to think about where we are and where we have to go. It is a day to consider the path ahead and to set our minds to meet our goals.

“In 2018, we will be working hard to create a strong, sustainable economy that benefits everyone, to make life more affordable for families and to improve the services people rely on.

“On behalf of the government of British Columbia, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy new year with many more to come.”


Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Sunday, December 31. The BC Coroner has confirmed that a man in his 40’s was killed in the MVI on Sooke Rd on Friday night, Dec 29. RCMP have not yet released any further official information. A roadside memorial was already in place Dec 30 in that poorly lit section of Highway 14 just east of Saseenos Elementary School.

PREVIOUS POST: Friday, December 29 ~ SOOKE. Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed this evening in both directions at Parkland Rd in Sooke due to a serious vehicle collision that occurred around 6:34 pm PST.

Traffic both eastbound and westbound on Sooke Road is blocked. However, a short local-area detour is available via Parkland Road to Blythwood Road to Woodlands Road. The provincial highway is estimated to reopen around 11 pm.

Reportedly the incident was a head-on collision involving two vehicles, with reportedly at least one fatality.

Road surfaces are wet today due to heavy rainfall most of the day.

Rescue crews from both Sooke Fire Dept and Langford Fire Dept have attended the crash.   More to come.


Sunday, December 30 ~ WEST SIDE of VANCOUVER ISLAND. As you ring in the new year tomorrow night, those who are politically inclined and civic minded are already well aware that 2018 is a big municipal election year in BC.

Elections BC says that the municipal and school board election period starts January 1, 2018, even though election day isn’t until October 20. That’s a lot of months of preparation for exposure to the community!

Candidates for Mayor, Council, and school trustee seats across BC may submit nomination papers starting September 4. The official campaign period begins September 22.

West Shore Voice News will in particular follow the campaign action all year in Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke, Juan de Fuca and View Royal (and school district 62 on the west shore) as candidates shuffle into place.

In our nearly 10 years of covering political and community news of this region, West Shore Voice News (formerly Sooke Voice News) election coverage has proven to get broad readership and good advertising traction.

This is the first municipal/trustee election after a 4-year term. Previously in BC, municipal and school board terms were for three years.

Vehicle crash on Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) on Fri Dec 29. [Photo source: Facebook]

Friday, December 29 ~ SOOKE. Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed this evening in both directions at Parkland Rd in Sooke due to a serious vehicle collision that occurred around 6:34 pm PST.

Traffic both eastbound and westbound on Sooke Road is blocked. However, a short local-area detour is available via Parkland Road to Blythwood Road to Woodlands Road. The provincial highway is estimated to reopen around 11 pm.

Reportedly the incident was a head-on collision involving two vehicles, with reportedly at least one fatality.

Road surfaces are wet today due to heavy rainfall most of the day.

Rescue crews from both Sooke Fire Dept and Langford Fire Dept have attended the crash.   More to come.


Friday, December 29 ~ BC.  Baby names in BC for 2017 are today’s hot topic. Final statistics will not be available until later in 2018, but stats from BC Vital Statistics (January 1 to December 15) are showing the trends.

The top baby girl name is Olivia (same as in 2016), with Emma in second place.  For the past six years, Olivia and Emma have been the top two girls’ names. So far, the other names for girls in the top five remain Sophia, Charlotte and Ava.

So far it looks like the top baby boy name in BC this year is Benjamin, followed by Liam, Logan and Lucas.  It appears Ethan and Oliver might not make it into the top five this year; possibly being replaced by Logan and James.

There were 45,399 babies born in BC in 2016 – 22,188 girls (49%) and 23,210 boys (51%). In 2016, Lucas was the number 1 boys’ name, followed by Benjamin, Ethan, Oliver and Liam. Olivia was the top girls’ name in 2016, followed by Emma, Charlotte, Ava and Sophia. List of the most popular baby names in BC for 2016

Drinking alcohol in any private or commercial vehicle is illegal in BC, whether the vehicle is moving or not.

Thursday, December 28 ~ VICTORIA.  The BC government is reminding party-goers who intend to use for-hire vehicles such as limousines and “party buses” to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations that govern these vehicles, to plan ahead for a safe ride home.

Passengers should be reminded that drinking alcohol in any private or commercial vehicle is illegal in BC, whether the vehicle is moving or not.

As New Year’s Eve approaches, consumers are encouraged to look for companies that advertise strict policies related to consuming alcohol in vehicles. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has distributed over 800 decals to operators for display in their vehicles, reminding passengers that consuming alcohol in any vehicle is illegal in BC.

Operators using any size vehicles with limo-style or party bus perimeter seating must have a special authorization licence. These licences state where vehicles can operate and limit fleet size. Passengers should look for a passenger-transportation licence plate and decal on the front of the vehicle, or if there is no plate, ask to see a temporary operating permit, before boarding a bus.

Police will be monitoring limousines and party buses during the holiday season. Operators that allow the consumption of alcohol in their vehicles will be penalized, and passengers in these vehicles also have a responsibility to adhere to the Province’s liquor laws. Operators who do not comply with liquor laws run the risk of losing their licence, and minors in possession of alcohol are subject to a $230 fine.

Make sure the company you are considering is properly licensed in BC by looking it up on the Licensee Report on the Passenger Transportation Branch’s Registry at: www.th.gov.bc.ca/rpt/registry.htm


Two sisters: Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4. [web-source photo]

Wednesday, December 27 ~ SOUTH ISLAND. Two children were found dead in an apartment building on Beach Drive in Oak Bay on Christmas Day, Monday December 25. The girls — age 4 and 6 — were found dead and their father found injured with self-inflicted wounds.

The sisters were identified as Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4. The father is Andrew Berry, and the estranged wife is Sarah Cotton. They first met when both employed at BC Ferries.

Reportedly there was a custody dispute and support payments from Berry to Cotton may have been in arrears.

RCMP say they are not looking for other suspects, therefore no risk to public safety.

The RCMP’s Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit was called in to investigate. They were on scene again the next day, searching the apartment. Police expect to be on the scene for the rest of the week.

On Saturday, December 30 there will be a candlelight vigil for the loss of these two young girls on Christmas Day by homicide in Oak Bay. The outdoor event will be held at Willows Beach on Beach Drive, 7 pm. Dress warmly, bring a candle. Statement from Mayor and Council of Oak Bay.


The BC Medical Services Plan billings still continue.

Wednesday, December 27 ~ VICTORIA. Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums in BC will be cut by 50% effective January 1, 2018. The BC Government says this marks “an important step toward improving fairness for all British Columbians”.

“MSP premiums are unfair and place a significant burden on British Columbians,” said BC Finance Minister Carole James in a Ministry of Finance news release. “I’m proud that we are moving away from these regressive fees and creating a more equitable system by eliminating MSP premiums entirely within four years.”

In addition to the 50% rate cut, the income threshold for full exemption from MSP premiums under the premium assistance program will also be raised by $2,000 (up to $26,000), as of January 1, 2018.

In November 2017, the Minister of Finance established a task force to examine the best approach to replacing the revenue from eliminating MSP premiums. The task force is comprised of respected experts in economics, law and public policy, to advise on the best path to eliminating MSP premiums. Government will receive its report by March 31, 2018.

Enhancements to premium assistance, effective Jan. 1, 2018, mean an individual earning up to $26,000 per year will pay no premiums.  A couple earning up to $29,000 per year will pay no premiums.  Senior couples earning up to $35,000 per year will pay no premiums.

A single parent with two children earning up to $32,000 per year will pay no premiums. A couple with two children earning up to $35,000 per year will pay no premiums.

In all other Canadian provinces the process of collecting medical system fees is done through various methods within the tax system. In BC, even though premiums will now be reduced (an idea introduced under the former BC Liberals due to public pressure), the billing system for overdue payments continues to be punitive, including putting a lien on a person’s property or garnishing their wages, if payment is not received all of which further erodes the person’s credit rating and damaging their future ability to recover a difficult financial situation.

The MSP Task Force is still receiving public input up to 4 pm on January 31, 2018 — to submit your ideas visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/msptaskforce/

Eligibility for premium assistance can be determined using the online eligibility calculator: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/msp/eligibilitycalculator/


Blood donation service at the Sooke Legion (April 2016). File Photo: West Shore Voice News

Monday, December 25 ~ NATIONAL. Last week, Canadian Blood Services was calling on eligible blood donors to help fill 35,000 appointments by January 6 to ensure that Canadian patients continue to have access to the blood and blood products they need over the holidays.

The next blood donor clinics coming up in the west shore area are on Monday January 15 at CFB Esquimalt, 1575 Lyall St (9 am to 4 pm); on Monday January 22 at Church of the Advent, 510 Mount View Ave, Colwood (12 noon to 7 pm); and on Monday, February 12 at the Sooke Legion, 6726 Eustace Rd (11:30 am to 6:30 pm).

New and existing donors are welcome and walk-ins are usually accepted. Some of the usually temporary impacts of giving blood include bruising, continued bleeding, dizziness, light-headedness and nausea. After giving blood, donors are offered juice and a cookie and are monitored for a while on site before they leave.

“The holiday period always presents challenges for us as we work to ensure we have enough blood and blood products to meet patients’ needs,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ Chief Supply Chain Officer. “We know that Canadians are busy with travel and activities over the holidays, and we hope that they will make time to save a life and give blood. Canadian patients’ lives depend on them.”

Platelets pose a particularly difficult challenge. Patients with serious bleeding or those undergoing cancer treatments rely on platelet donations, but with a shelf life of only seven days, the need for platelets is pressing and ongoing.

Canadian Blood Services manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). Their integrated, pan-Canadian service delivery model includes leading an interprovincial system for organ donation and transplantation.

Queen Elizabeth II delivering her 2017 Christmas Day message [BBC screenshot]

Monday, December 25 ~ COMMONWEALTH.  Calling Christmas a ‘festival of the home’, Queen Elizabeth delivered her traditional Christmas message on British television today December 25, also seen live-streamed online.

In addition to the usual themes of thanking those who serve their country and community, she broke with tradition by welcoming a new member of the Royal Family ahead of the marriage — that would be American actress Meghan Markle, now engaged to Prince Harry … their engagement photo was included among those of the family in the televised scene.

The queen referred to herself in the third person as a young woman who had used advanced technology to deliver her first Christmas message (black-and-white TV, at the time). Although she gave an understated nod to her husband Prince Philip for his years of service, she gave no indication of her timeline ‘on the job’, having always said it would be her lifelong commitment to be Queen.

A photo of young Prince George (3rd in line to the throne) was stationed the most prominently to the right of the Queen, with a photo of young Princess Charlotte alongside.

Here is the full text of the speech:

“Sixty years ago today, a young woman spoke about the speed of technological change as she presented the first television broadcast of its kind. She described the moment as a landmark:

“Television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. My own family often gather round to watch television as they are at this moment, and that is how I imagine you now.”

Six decades on, the presenter has ‘evolved’ somewhat, as has the technology she described. Back then, who could have imagined that people would one day be watching this on laptops and mobile phones – as some of you are today. But I’m also struck by something that hasn’t changed. That, whatever the technology, many of you will be watching this at home.

We think of our homes as places of warmth, familiarity and love; of shared stories and memories, which is perhaps why at this time of year so many return to where they grew up. There is a timeless simplicity to the pull of home.

For many, the idea of “home” reaches beyond a physical building – to a home town or city. This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past twelve months in the face of appalling attacks. In Manchester, those targeted included children who had gone to see their favourite singer. A few days after the bombing, I had the privilege of meeting some of the young survivors and their parents.

I describe that hospital visit as a “privilege” because the patients I met were an example to us all, showing extraordinary bravery and resilience. Indeed, many of those who survived the attack came together just days later for a benefit concert. It was a powerful reclaiming of the ground, and of the city those young people call home.

We expect our homes to be a place of safety – “sanctuary” even – which makes it all the more shocking when the comfort they provide is shattered. A few weeks ago, The Prince of Wales visited the Caribbean in the aftermath of hurricanes that destroyed entire communities. And here in London, who can forget the sheer awfulness of the Grenfell Tower fire?

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who died and those who lost so much; and we are indebted to members of the emergency services who risked their own lives, this past year, saving others. Many of them, of course, will not be at home today because they are working, to protect us.

Reflecting on these events makes me grateful for the blessings of home and family, and in particular for 70 years of marriage. I don’t know that anyone had invented the term “platinum” for a 70 wedding anniversary when I was born. You weren’t expected to be around that long. Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little – having, as he economically put it, “done his bit”. But I know his support and unique sense of humour will remain as strong as ever, as we enjoy spending time this Christmas with our family and look forward to welcoming new members into it next year.

In 2018 I will open my home to a different type of family: the leaders of the fifty-two nations of the Commonwealth, as they gather in the UK for a summit. The Commonwealth has an inspiring way of bringing people together, be it through the Commonwealth Games – which begin in a few months’ time on Australia’s Gold Coast – or through bodies like the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra & Choir: a reminder of how truly vibrant this international family is.

Today we celebrate Christmas, which itself is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together. Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. We remember the birth of Jesus Christ whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad.

Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered his 2017 Christmas Message on Dec 24.

Sunday, December 24 ~ OTTAWA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today issued the following statement on Christmas: “Merry Christmas, Canada!

“In 2017, people across Canada gave us much reason to be proud, and showed us the strength in our diversity. Canadians are neighbours helping neighbours, sharing warmth, compassion, and generosity—not just at Christmas, but all year round.

“For Christians around the world, this season is a time to celebrate Jesus Christ and his message of compassion. For all of us, it is a chance to come together to give thanks for everything that unites us.

“As the 150th anniversary of Confederation draws to a close, all of us have a role to play in shaping our world for the better. In the New Year, and throughout the years to come, let’s commit to making a difference. Whether by lending a hand to a neighbour, or volunteering for a cause we believe in, let’s give generously, and live out the values that bring us together.

“Let’s also reach out and listen—to those next door, across the aisle, and at the dinner table. Building a better world starts where we work and live, in our communities, and at home.

“During the holidays, I also ask you take a moment to remember our brave servicewomen and men, and their families. They make extraordinary sacrifices to keep us safe.

“From our family to yours, Hadrien, Ella-Grace, Xavier, Sophie, and I wish you joy, health, love, and peace this holiday season. Merry Christmas.”

BC Premier John Horgan, Dec 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Sunday, December 24 ~ VICTORIA. Premier John Horgan has released the following statement in celebration of Christmas:

“Dec. 25 is a special day for Christians around the world. It is a day set aside to recognize the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation.

“For people of many backgrounds, Christmas is an opportunity for families to gather together and celebrate warmth, good food and good company.

“It offers us a break from the worries of the everyday world and a chance to focus on things that really matter – the people we love and the communities we care about.

“It is also a time to reach out to people in need, and work in a spirit of generosity to help and support each other.

“We hope that British Columbians throughout the province have a safe and joyful Christmas season.

“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, Merry Christmas.”

To see Premier John Horgan’s interview in West Shore Voice News, click here: December 15, 2017 issue

Amazon will deliver parcels right into your home.

Friday, December 22 ~ EDITORIAL ~ by Mary P Brooke: “How far will you go? Reality check in the digital age”

Apparently you can order something online from Amazon and have it shipped to your door, and right inside your house if you want. If you want?

It made national news this week that someone hacked the delivery-into-your-home system. Really, you’re kidding — people didn’t think that digital thugs weren’t licking their chops to get their hands on this one? Once a delivery was digitally confirmed, stuff would be promptly stolen off the parcel recipient’s front step or even from inside their home by blocking the cameras.

Shakin’ my head here. How far will people trust the new technology? There is virtually no privacy left for anyone anymore. Much of the younger generation doesn’t even really understand what privacy means, they’ve never known it: cameras in most public places for safety and security, multi-layered digital ID cards, and voluntary release of scads of personal details onto Facebook and other social media. So it’s easy to see how parcels inside the door ‘to alleviate your worry about theft’ could naturally arrive in the ‘ok zone’.

At Christmas we reach for the stars in our minds and for the beauty in our hearts. And so it should be. But it’s always been common sense, planning for the inevitable, and tough critical thinking that has saved people in the end.

By all means dream big, you must. Make real the visions of your mind and desires of your soul. It’s what we’re here for. But while expanding your horizons, remember the basics of human nature, including the dark side. And don’t be surprised if you get fooled because you sought convenience or a short cut.


EMCS Principal Pat Swinburnson will retire Dec 22, 2017 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Thursday, December 21 ~ SOOKE. Friday December 22 will be Patrick Swinburnson’s last day on the job as the principal at EMCS.

It will also be his last day with SD62 and in his public education system career … 36 years! Retired!

“I have loved the opportunity to have my own school and to try to make a difference. As principal, you can set the direction and tone of a school, and if you do it well and set off on the right path, lots of good things can happen,” Principal Swinburnson told West Shore Voice News this week.

See a full feature article exploring the highlights of Principal Pat Swinburnson’s impact at Edward Milne Community School — in the December 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News, page 3.


Santa visiting in pediatrics at Victoria General Hospital [Island Health file photo]

Wednesday, December 20 ~ VICTORIA AREA. Santa will be visiting at Victoria General Hospital (VGH) on Thursday, December 21. “He will step in to make the holidays a little brighter for kids who can’t be home for Christmas,” says Island Health.

Helijet was to bring Santa to VGH on Tuesday but snow grounded him in Vancouver. This time Santa will arrive by ground travel. Island Health thanks Helijet for still making sure that little patients receive a teddy bear from Santa.

Santa will visit all of the children in pediatrics at VGH – at their bedside. “We have 25 beds for children and often siblings come to see Santa on this special day too,” says Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton.

Old forest growth cleared on land owned by T-Sou-ke Nation, for future commercial development. [West Shore Voice News photo – Dec 18, 2017]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ SOOKE.  Big changes to the Sooke landscape! 
Regular commuters often feel they have ‘arrived’ back in Sooke when heading westbound home they see that tall stand of old trees along Sooke Road just east of Edward Milne Community School.
So it kinda takes your breath away to see the proud old trees having been cleared away this week. For future land development.
We hear there will be a Tim Horton’s coffee shop and a gas station on the land there on Edward Milne Road as owned by T-Souke Nation.

Reportedly a future Tim Horton’s and a gas station will be built here next to the EMCS high school [West Shore Voice News photo – Dec 18, 2017]

That will significantly impact the livelihood of little coffee shops in Sooke town centre, as well as the busy little gas-fillup trade of Chevron and PetroCan stations in town centre.
For years, teens and others in the community have frequently wished for a Tim Horton’s to come to town. It’s always been a matter of economics to bring a large franchise operation to a small town.
More to come on this breaking news story.

Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. Snow and freezing rain have impacted customers across Vancouver Island, says BC Hydro. “All available resources are out working to restore power as quickly as possible but difficult conditions and extensive damage mean that some customers may experience longer outage durations,” it was stated on the BC Hydro website.

As usual, :individual restoration times may vary and will be provided once full damage assessments are completed. The safety of the public and our crews remains our top priority. Thank you for your patience,” said BC Hydro.

In the Sooke area, as of 1:15 pm there are about 350 people without power west of Sooke, with about 20 BC Hydro customer addresses affected in areas outside of town centre (including Idlemore, 5100-5200 block, and Cedar Park Place.

Outages in Colwood, Langford and Highlands since early-to-mid morning are affecting about 3,000 BC Hydro customers still as of 1:15 pm today.


Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. Snow and freezing rain have impacted customers across Vancouver Island, says BC Hydro. “All available resources are out working to restore power as quickly as possible but difficult conditions and extensive damage mean that some customers may experience longer outage durations,” it was stated on the BC Hydro website.

As usual, :individual restoration times may vary and will be provided once full damage assessments are completed. The safety of the public and our crews remains our top priority. Thank you for your patience,” said BC Hydro.

Outages in Colwood, Langford and Highlands since early-to-mid morning are affecting about 3,000 BC Hydro customers still as of 1:15 pm today.

In the Sooke area, as of 1:15 pm there are about 350 people without power west of Sooke, with about 20 BC Hydro customer addresses affected in areas outside of town centre (including Idlemore, 5100-5200 block, and Cedar Park Place


The Westhills view of snowy roads and hills today, Dec 19. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, December 19 ~ WEST SHORE. It’s a snow day! Schools are closed for instruction in the west shore area (SD62) including in Langford, Colwood and Sooke.  However, the buildings are open and staff are in the schools. Updates for tomorrow (Dec 20) will be posted on Twitter @SD62_Sooke

For general driving conditions, MAINROAD SOUTH ISLAND says: Drive with care today. Winter driving conditions. Expect snow, slush and slippery conditions. Use winter tires and be prepared to chain up, if needed. Please be aware of snow plows and snow clearing operations. Updates on Twitter: #DriveSafe

In Langford, the CITY of LANGFORD ENGINEERING said this morning: The City of Langford is asking all traffic to please avoid steep slope areas as we work to clear our roads. In particular please avoid Bear Mountain Parkway. Road clearing priorities mimic most other municipalities – we are clearing major collector roads, bus routes and steep slopes first. Please be patient as we make our way to the smaller local roads.  If you do not have to go out, please remain at home. Visibility coming in from the Highlands is very challenging for any drivers coming in from the District of Highlands, several abandoned vehicles Millstream Road at Millstream Lake Road and in the downhill lanes southbound Millstream Road approaching Millstream Lake Road. Snowfall is much more significant in the Highlands and in Langford at the higher elevations.

Busy Millstream commercial intersection in Langford.

As of 1 pm today, December 19, the City of Langford reports: “There are several power outages in the City right now including in the Millstream Corridor (Costco and Millstream Village). This is affecting our signal lights because the back up batteries typically last 2 to 4 hours and with Hydro crews swamped our signal lights are going down. We are likely going to send traffic control to the north side of the Highway to help out in the Millstream corridor.”

There are seven City of Langford snow plows out on the roads. One is dedicated for clearing on Bear Mountain Parkway.

The weather is warming slightly so there is now some pooling and minor flooding. “In these instances we typically go out and proactively clear catch basins so we are sending our staff out as we speak to do that all over the City in the major corridors,” says Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering, City of Langford.

“Residents are also asked to clear their catch basins and sidewalks. The temperature will drop over night so we need to minimize slip/fall hazards as well as contain any flooding,” says Mahovlich.

Sharing the limelight at the new schools announcement in Langford Dec 18 (from left): SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge; City of Langford Mayor Stew Young; SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar; and BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming. [Photo: Mary P Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News]

Monday, December 18 ~ LANGFORD. The fastest-growing community in BC will be getting two new schools, it was announced by BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming today in Langford. 

The Sooke School District (SD62) which serves the communities of Langford, Colwood, Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca will receive $23.3 million toward the purchase of 6.5 hectares (16 acres) of land from within the Westhills development.

The site for a middle school and elementary school at the corner of West Shore Parkway and Constellation Avenue will tie together a string of educational and recreational facilities in the area, said Langford Mayor Stew Young, including Belmont Secondary School (where the announcement was made) and nearby public library, arena, bowling alley and sports stadium. Ball fields will be developed as part of the overall project, says Young. He points out the cooperative use of the recreational facilities by students during the day and by the community in non-school hours.

In this his last year of his education career, SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge was pleased to host the announcement today, in the commons area at Belmont — the largest school in SD62. He noted that Education Minister Rob Fleming is the former education critic “who knows every rock in the education system”, as a benefit in particular to the fastest-growing area.

A main impetus for gearing up for new schools is to reduce the number of portables currently in use in the overloaded west shore area of SD62. There are presently 13 portables at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood and seven at Spencer Middle School in Langford. “We hope to eliminate those in a few short years,” said Cambridge in his remarks at the podium.

Since the availability of new education funding this year, about 3,700 teachers have been hired to help support about 5,000 more students in the community. “We’ve been poaching teachers to come teach in BC,” said Cambridge at the podium. He spoke highly of the SD62 board as being “unique in BC for putting children and learning spaces first”.

Langford Mayor Stew Young called the schools announcement “an early Christmas present”. The mayor who is proactive for community growth and development says “everybody is now taking notice of Langford”. He says that people are excited to be in Langford “because we’re actually providing what is needed by our community”.

SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar addressed the room of about 80 people, thanking the BC Government for “supporting our vision and capital plan” with funding for purchase of the 16 acres in Westhills. Parmar — himself a graduate of Belmont Secondary — said “when this government gets money they spend it”.

Building a new middle school will be SD62’s first priority on the site, followed by an elementary school to address the shortage of K to 5 spaces brought about by an influx of young families to the west shore. About 1,800 more students are expected to arrive in the SD62 catchment area in the next five years.

Present for the announcement by Minister Fleming in the bright spacious Belmont commons room were SD62 trustees and staff; City of Langford Mayor, Council and senior staff; Westhills owners, executive and staff; Education Ministry staff; Belmont principal Ray Miller; STA president Ian Johnson; CUPE reps; parent association reps; members of the business community; and students in study mode upon whom this little event came as a surprise!

Sunday, December 17 ~ Randall Garrison’s seasonal constituency open house will be held on Monday, December 18 from 4 to 6 pm at the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke constituency office, 2904 Tillicum Rd.  Here is Garrison’s seasonal letter to constituents:

“As the year comes to an end and the holiday season begins, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all residents of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke and their families.

It is an honour to represent you. In the New Year, I am committed to continuing to work for a fairer and greener Canada. As your Member of Parliament, I know that many of you are struggling with the housing crisis, affordability issues, and that you want our environment to be better protected.

I will continue to advocate for improvements to housing, Pharmacare, childcare, and affordability. I will also continue to stand with the majority of my constituents in their opposition to Kinder Morgan.

I hope that your holiday season is joyful and that the New Year brings you success and happiness.”

SD62 Trustees at their December 12 board meeting (from left): Margot Swinburnson, Bob Phillips (Vice-Chair), Neil Poirier, Denise Riley, Dianna Seaton,
Ravi Parmar (Chair). Absent: Wendy Hobbs. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Friday, December 15 ~ WEST SHORE.  At their December 12 board meeting ahead of Christmas break, the Sooke School District (SD62) trustees held their annual election, returning Ravi Parmar as Chair and shifting to Bob Phillips (a former SD62 Chair) as Vice-Chair. Dianna Seaton was thanked for her last couple of years of service as Vice-Chair.

Superintendent Jim Cambridge reported on his most recent school visits (Royal Bay, Saseenos and John Muir) and his involvement in the south island partnership with Camosun College as well as his participation in a committee about technical funding for all schools in BC for 2018-2019. He said some “land acquisition meetings with municipalities” had been held.

Treasurer Harold Cull introduced the process of developing the 2018-2019 strategic plan, to which public input will be invited in January. SD62 promotes a goal of providing education that produces “creative, cultural and social thinkers with the capacity to be global citizens”.

A full day of orientation for new teachers in SD62 will be held soon — two sessions ahead of Christmas break, and two more in January. With so many new teachers in the growing school system, this is an expansion over the usual one meeting of previous years.  New educators will be provided with various supports, says SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. That includes information from the human resources, information technology and finance departments as well as various classroom supports, and “stories about successes in the past”.

SD62 executive staff after the December 12 board meeting (from left): Dave Strange (Asst Supt – Sooke schools), Harold Cull (Secretary-Treasurer), Jim Cambridge (Superintendent), Stephanie Hedley-Smith (Asst Supt – Langford schools), Paul Block (Asst Supt – Colwood schools), Dan Haley (Exec Director Human Resources). [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

SD62 Vice-Chair Bob Phillips pondered aloud at the Dec 12 board meeting whether there is any research on retaining new teachers. “Thirty percent say bye-bye after the first year,” said Phillips.

BC Education Minister Rob Fleming is scheduled to make an announcement “that supports west shore students”, coming up at Belmont Secondary School in Langford on Monday, December 18. The SD62 school board has in recent months pitched for provincial funds to build new schools in  this, the province’s fastest-growing school district. There are presently three SD62 high schools: Belmont in Langford, Royal Bay in Colwood, and EMCS in Sooke.

Donation of $10,000 to the Goldstream Food Bank, December 2017 (from left): Ron Coutre, president, Westshore Developers Assoc; Gayle Ireland, president, Goldstream Food Bank; City of Langford Mayor Stew Young. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, December 13 ~ LANGFORD. A big cheque was delivered to the Goldstream Food Bank in Langford today.  The generous $10,000 donation from the Westshore Developers Association and the Langford Economic Development Commission (EDC) was announced last week, and today under bright sunny skies the official presentation was made.

Receiving the ceremonial cheque on behalf of the Goldstream Food Bank was the organization’s long-time President and Christmas Hamper Fund chair Gayle Ireland. Making the presentation was Ron Coutre, president, Westshore Developers Association and City of Langford Mayor Stew Young on behalf of the Langford EDC.

The busy food bank on Station Road in Langford will process 650 to 700 hampers to individuals and families in need over five days ahead of Christmas. In addition to lots of non-perishable food items and fresh produce, each hamper includes a gift card that can be used for a turkey, ham or other entree for Christmas, says Ireland. Handing out the hampers will be members of the Langford Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and other volunteers. “Everything will be loaded into vehicles for the people receiving the hampers,” says Ireland, clearly proud of the work of the volunteers.

“This $10,000 donation is so generous,” said the food bank president. Ireland explained that it essentially turns into $20,000 worth of food because of discounts given to the Goldstream Food Bank. “And we’re a financially healthy organization because we save for a rainy day.” She reminded everyone that no one gets paid to operate the food bank.

“Doing this was an easy decision,” said Coutre, who said at a meeting of the developers and economic development committee that they all wanted to give back.  Stew Young was enthusiastic about reporting success and goodwill: “Everybody’s doing well and it’s a great time to this to happen. Especially in Langford’s 25th year since incorporation, everybody’s on board to do this.” With Coutre piping in: “Especially at this time of year.”

This $10,000 donation was the largest of a collection of donations made by the developers and the City this holiday season. $3,000 was donated to the Langford Legion, with $1,000 to Another Brick in Nepal’s earthquake relief, $1,000 to Santa’s Anonymous, $1,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation, and $1,000 to the Victoria Conservatory of Music.


Announcing Site C on December 11, 2017 at the BC Parliament Buildings: Premier John Horgan with Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy & Mines Minister Michelle Mungall. [Photo: West Shore Voice News]

Monday, December 11 ~ VICTORIA.  Today December 11, 2017, the BC government has committed to completing construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam. The cost of the project on the Peace River near Fort St John in northern BC is now estimated at $10.7 billion (up from the original 2014 estimate of $8.775 billion by the previous government).

Site C will provide 1,100 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year – enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year in BC.

In making the announcement, Premier John Horgan stated that while Site C should never have been started, the project has been pushed past the point of no return over the past few years. To cancel would have meant asking British Columbians to take on almost $4 billion in debt with nothing in return for the people of the province and, even worse, with a high risk of cuts to services and projects families count on.  Horgan reiterated his campaign promise to work hard to help keep life affordable for British Columbians.

However, the electricity load (demand) forecast used to underlie the decision to continue with Site C includes a realistic and responsible recognition of greater electrification in BC homes and industries in the future, especially as carbon emission reduction is a socioeconomic and political goal. The forecast by Deloitte as commissioned by the former government was said to have not incorporated any enhanced electrification of the economy.

Much of the increased future demand is likely to be required by the time Site C is completed and its power comes onstream in 2024. However, today the government said there will be surplus at first, and it will be sold to create revenues. The remaining shortfall between costs and revenues will be made up by electricity consumers (aka ratepayers).

The government has announced a Site C turnaround plan to contain costs, provide enhanced project oversight, and expand benefits to people and communities. Government says it will be putting in place enhanced oversight to ensure final costs are at or below $10.7 billion.

If the Site C project had been cancelled, losses would have meant insufficient funds for the things the BC NDP promised to BC voters in the 2017 campaign including more schools, hospitals and highways as well as expanded child care support. Cancellation would have produced an immediate rate hike of 12% on BC consumers all at once in 2020 without any benefit other than servicing debts and cancellation obligations.

In his public announcement today in the Library Rotunda at the BC Parliament Buildings in Victoria, Premier Horgan delivered “with a heavy heart” his decision to proceed with the Site C hydroelectric project.  He was flanked by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall.

In a way, he had no choice but to give the green light to Site C. It was the goal and intention of the previous BC Liberal government to get the project past the point of no return (notably for contracts with workers, businesses and some First Nations), and they succeeded. The only reason to have started the project in the first place is to keep up with electricity demand into the future, but for years even that premise has been debated.

Not only does the continuation of the project present a long-term financial commitment including continual electricity rate increases for everyone in BC, it presents a quagmire of political challenges for the BC NDP government. Many groups who fought hard against Site C — including environmental, food sustainability and indigenous — feel they are on the losing end of this decision. And the BC Greens (with three MLAs who hold the balance of power in the current NDP-led minority government) are saying they feel betrayed. All of this sets up a myriad of immediate tensions and possibly some political brick walls in the future (including that the NDP caucus was divided on the issue, and that Energy Minister Michelle Mungall could face tensions in her constituency at the next provincial election).

A media briefing ahead of Horgan’s announcement began with this: “After review by BCUC, meeting with Treaty 8 First Nations, advice from independent experts and lengthy deliberation, Cabinet has made the difficult decision to complete Site C construction.”

Right out of the gate the presentation showed that hydro rates have been “rising significantly” since 2003. In 2014, a 5-year package of rate hikes would have seen rates were go up 28.5%; four of the past five years saw hefty increases loaded on the backs of consumers – notably 9% in the first year (followed by 6%, 4% and 3.5% this year); for 2018 the BC NDP government has issued a reprieve on the previously approved 3% increase.

With Site C going ahead, increases for electricity usage will occur year after year – up about 30% over 10 years (2019 to 2028). The government says hydro rates in BC are still relatively low compared to other provinces and cities in Canada and North America. Highly industrialized areas like Ontario and California have among the highest rates. Quebec has the lowest.

So-called ‘new power’ (from Site C) will cost $60/MWh to produce, compared to $32/MWh from the present generation system. The elephant in the room is the cost of energy production having been privatized under the Gordon Campbell BC Liberals back in the early 2000s — private companies that produce power and feed it into the grid are costing BC Hydro $100/MWh. And the share of supply by Independent Power Producers (IPP) is growing, which continues to push up the cost of electricity for British Columbians.

Studies apparently show that where the sources of power are varied in a jurisdiction – including hydro, fossil fuel, solar and wind, and nuclear, that the cost of power to produce power is somewhat less strident where hydro takes the lead.

The Site C decision was a complex equation, which Horgan said today was the most difficult in his 30 years in public service and politics. He knows all too well who he needs to please, and who he has disappointed. Included in the decision by Horgan and his cabinet was that shareholders who have invested in the expansion of electricity in BC will expect a good return on investment. If shareholders are spooked, BC’s bond rating could go down and that would affect many other aspects of the provincial budget.

Horgan said in his announcement today that BC Hydro had been “raided” by the previous government in order to produce a balanced BC budget. Part of cleaning up the mismanagement of BC Hydro was to appoint a new Chair. In one of his first actions as the new Premier, in mid-July Kenneth Peterson was appointed to replace Brad Bennett who was one of BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s election campaign advisers and president of real estate investment firm McIntosh Properties) and a few more directors considered more qualified will still be appointed, it was stated today by government.

To “lessen the burden” on BC Hydro and on British Columbians, Horgan announced some mitigating actions such as creating a food security fund to ensure we’re increase the productivity of agricultural land, and making it more viable to farm in the Peace and across BC. Reopening standing offer so indigenous people can build clean renewable energy and sell it back into the grid.  More training opportunities for local businesses and workers (much better than the 49 apprentices we have in place today). And a new oversight committee to make sure that the current budget is met in the next number of years.

Horgan said he and his colleagues made the Site C decision upon finding themselves in a situation where they had to accept realities, “not as we wish it to be”.  Horgan said: “It’s not the project we would have favoured, and not the project we would have started. But we’re three years in. It must be completed to meet the objectives our government has set.” He said the costs can be recovered “over a long period of time by the sale of electricity” which of course includes rate increases for consumers.

To those who Horgan expects will be disappointed by the government’s decision today on Site C, he said today: “I respect the strength of your convictions. I share your determination to protect BC farmland.  Decisions must be done in tandem with indigenous peoples but those decisions have passed (as negotiated by the previous government).”

Knowing he was disappointing ‘family and friends, Horgan said that “proceeding is the best way forward” but the decision was not an easy one: “We do it with a heavy heart.  But we have to focus on the future and on delivering for people.” ~ WSV

TECHNICAL and TIMELINE BACKGROUND: The Site C Clean Energy Project (Site C) will be a third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in northeast BC. Site C will provide 1,100 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year – enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year in BC. The Site C project received environmental approvals from the federal and provincial governments in October 2014, then got the green light from the Government of BC in December 2014.  Construction of the project started in summer 2015 and will be completed in 2024. After a review of Site C by the British Columbia Utilities Commission in the fall of 2017, the B.C. Government chose to continue construction on the project. Site C will be a source of clean, reliable and affordable electricity for more than 100 years.


Sunday, December 10 ~ VICTORIA (posted at 6 pm).  Premier John Horgan is ready to announce his decision about whether or not to proceed with construction of the Site C hydroelectric project. He will make the announcement in Victoria tomorrow, Monday December 11.

Update later Sunday evening (posted at 11:30 pm): For some reason, longtime political journalist Keith Baldrey thought it necessary to upstage the Premier and tonight leak out that Site C will go ahead. Professional journalists need to do better than that. So the project is going ahead. But without details in the ‘scoop’ (as to why the go-ahead decision was made), there is really no benefit to the public to give a half-day’s advance notice. Ethics in journalism still matter.

A month ago, when pressed about his decision whether to proceed with or stop the Site C hydroelectric project, Premier Horgan replied that it is a $12 billion dollar project and that if it proceeds it will affect contracts, indigenous interests in the area, and individuals.

If the project is cancelled, the cost would be about $4 billion (over $2 billion already spent or committed, plus another $1.8 billion to remediate the site).

“Site C is over budget and off schedule,” said Premier Horgan, adding it’s something he’s been saying “for some time”. He reiterated having run on a platform of affordability for British Columbians. He said it was “bad policy making from the start” for former Premier Clark to try to “get the project past the point of no return”.

BC Premier John Horgan

Having information made public about Site C decision-making is something Horgan promised during the 2017 election campaign, and he seemed pleased that the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) report was made available to the public last month.

At present, Horgan says there is an oversupply of electricity in the North American market. He says the estimates by BC Hydro for future electricity demand are wrong. However, the jury may be out on that, given the increase in use of electric cars and charging massive batteries (in size and/or number) for other uses in the modern digital age. While alternative energy sources are moving forward in various ways, there is no way of telling whether natural gas, biomass heat capture, wind power and other methods will be far enough along should a growing population require more electricity in five to 10 years time.

“It’s not an easy choice or decision. I will be grappling with it for the next couple of weeks,” Horgan said on November 8. And now the time for announcement of his decision has arrived (Monday December 11).

Read the West Shore Voice News editorial about the impact of the new BC NDP government on the lives of British Columbians, page 2 in the December 8, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.


Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir [2010] in Vancouver

Friday, December 8 ~ BC. Tipping a hat to Canadian winter sport, this week the BC Government announced a contribution of $110,000 to support the upcoming national skating championships by helping bring some of the biggest names in Canadian figure skating to Vancouver.

Taking place at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia January 8 – 14, 2018, the week will also be high-profile exposure for Vancouver and Canada’s west coast and a winter tourism draw for people from all over BC (tickets $19.99/day Jan 8-11 up to $40-75 for final days; $10 at the gate to watch junior and senior practices).

The event is an Olympic-qualifier for Canada’s team at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. The championships will feature about 250 skaters, competing in the men, women, and pair ice dance disciplines. About 8,000 spectators are expected to attend, with thousands more throughout Canada watching via CTV’s live broadcast.

The anticipated economic activity generated by the competition is approximately $6 million, said a Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture news release on December 8.

Tuesday, December 5 ~ BC.  Today December 5, the Province of BC has released a number of key decisions on cannabis regulation in BC. 

The following policy decisions were shaped by feedback provided by individuals and municipalities who participated in the engagement (48,951 British Columbians, and 141 local and Indigenous governments):

  • Minimum age – British Columbia will set the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis at 19 years old. A minimum age of 19 is consistent with BC’s minimum age for alcohol and tobacco and with the age of majority in BC.
  • Wholesale distribution of cannabis – Like other provinces, BC will have a government-run wholesale distribution model. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in BC.
  • Retail of cannabis – The Province anticipates establishing a retail model that includes both public and private retail opportunities and will share details regarding the model in early 2018.

Legalization of non-medical cannabis in Canada is anticipated to start July 1, 2018 following the passage of federal legislation in the new year.

“Looking at the responses received, it’s clear that British Columbians support the priorities of protecting young people, health and safety, keeping the criminal element out of cannabis and keeping roads safe, which will guide the Province in developing BC’s regulatory framework for non-medical cannabis,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

From September 25 to November 1 of this  year, the public and stakeholders were asked to share their input and expertise on a range of issues related to the regulation of non-medical cannabis in BC, including minimum age, personal possession, public consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal cultivation, wholesale distribution and retail models. Most of the public input was received online.

The policy decisions announced today also reflect the feedback received from the local government members of the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR) and are endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities executive.

“We thank all British Columbians who provided their input during the important public and stakeholder engagement process,” said Farnworth.

“We will continue to consider your opinions as we further develop policy and legislation that is in the best interests of this province, ensuring a made-in-BC approach to the legalization of non-medical cannabis that will keep our roads and communities safe, protect young people, and promote public health and safety.”

The provincial government says it “still has a number of key decisions to make as it prepares for the legalization of cannabis”. These decisions “will be informed by the feedback collected through the public and stakeholder engagement” but there will be further consultation with local and Indigenous governments and other key stakeholders.

Link: Cannabis Regulation in B.C.: What We Heard report on public and stakeholder engagement: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/BCcannabisregulation/


Premier John Horgan congratulates Langford Mayor Stew Young on 25 years of service. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, December 4 ~ LANGFORD. After hosting his own open house at his constituency office this evening, BC Premier John Horgan dropped into the holiday season open house at Langford council chambers.

Saying he moved to Langford 25 years ago, Horgan says Langford has been “transformative” for him: “I raised my family here, became a member of legislature here, and became the premier here.”

As part of recognizing 25 years of municipal service by Mayor Stew Young and Councillors Denise Blackwell and Winnie Sifert, the premier called Langford’s success “an extraordinary accomplishment”.

“it’s absolutely unparalleled to have that much dedication and commitment to your community,” said Horgan about Langford’s mayor and council. He said that Langford has demonstrated “the things that you can do when you work together and have a vision, and have a community this inclusive.”

Horgan noted Langford’s amenities for young families such as good schools, good sports, great arenas, the YMCA, and libraries. “It just keeps getting better, month after month, year after year. It’s been an extraordinary 25 years in Langford, I have a great deal of gratitude for you,” said Horgan to Mayor Young, Langford council, and city staff.

“People are coming and bringing families here, starting businesses here, and creating opportunities for themselves. It is all because of the work that you do in this room,” Horgan said.

Premier John Horgan attends 25-year recognition ceremony at Langford Council, Dec 4, 2017 (From left): Councillor Denise Blackwell, Premier Horgan, Councillor Winnie Sifert, Mayor Stew Young. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Mayor Young thanked the Premier, and also acknowledged Langford’s team effort. “We’ve got a lot of great workers in the City of Langford. Everybody’s excited to apply and get a job in Langford.” People see leadership here: “Everybody sees how well we work together with our council and our staff. We’re always able to do great things in Langford when we all work together like that,” said Stew Young, noting how his city is known for an open door policy to business.

“It’s one of the things our council prides itself on. Helping everybody who’s in business,” said Young, noting how using the services of local businesses is key. “The business community comes to our community.”

Noting his 25 years as Mayor, Stew Young said he is happy and proud to have a team behind him that works so hard to improve the community where he was born and grew up.

Guests this evening included local developers, to whom Horgan gave a nod: in a recent speech to the Urban Development Institute in Vancouver Horgan had highlighted how well things get done to speed along with building permits and the growth of the community.

Friday, December 1 ~ VICTORIA.  November 2017 saw the highest number of property sales of any November in the Greater Victoria area since 1996 — 671 in total (12% more than sold last November). The number of active listings for sale dropped 7.4% in one month from October to November.

The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) predicted last month that buyers might accelerate their purchase timeline to buy a home ahead of ‘stress test’ rules set for January 2018.  Overall in Greater Victoria there were 307 single family home sales in November selling at a raw average price of $902,985.

It should be understood that VREB’s data-adjusted HPI figures show $693,200, which means people are paying far above what most people hear as the selling price.

In the west shore, the real price of a house in Langford last month was $696,933 (61 sales) while the HPI was given as $593,800. In Colwood there were 15 sales averaging out at $725,290 while the HPI was $658,100. In Sooke there were 18 house sales in November at a real average sale price of $509,418 while the HPI was $483,300.

So that’s almost a million dollars in overall Greater Victoria for a house and over half a million in Sooke where housing is considered to be affordable.

Condo sales rolled in like this: 219 in Greater Victoria averaging $437,822; Langford 26  sales averaging  $330,298; Colwood 5 sales averaging $396,900; and one sale in Sooke at $229,000. All stats: www.vreb.org






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